First published by Malaysiakini on 17 March 2016

Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) wants all other functions of the attorney-general to be separated from the duties of a public prosecutor and for the independence of the criminal prosecution branch of the government to be ensured.

TI-M president Akhbar Satar said in a statement today that this separation of powers, as a method of check-and-balance, would ensure that decisions on prosecution could be made without any fear or favour and protected from political interference.

“The position of a public prosecutor should also be made answerable to Parliament and not to the executive arm of the government.

“Since the AG is a public servant, any decision made by him should not only be independent, transparent, impartial and fair but also must be seen to be so,” said Akhbar, adding that the

role should be apolitical and no one should be able to doubt decisions made in the interest of the nation.

“There should never be an accumulation of power by a single person or body of government – from time immemorial this has always been the greatest threat to liberty and the life of a nation,” he stressed.

‘AG needs to come clean, be transparent’

TI-M’s call was made in response to questions raised on Apandi’s decision not to proceed with the three investigation papers submitted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the RM2.6 billion donation and also the SRC International funds linked to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

“Very clearly, the AG needs to come clean and be transparent to explain why and what is the justification and the basis for not proceeding with recommendation of the MACC and for instructing MACC to close its files,” Akhbar said.

At the same time, he also noted that the candidate for the AG’s post does not require the confidence of the judiciary or the public as to his capabilities and integrity.

“The current justice system merely requires the candidate for the AG to gain confidence from his appointer, who is the prime minister,” Akhbar added.

The chief executive of think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), Wan Saiful Wan Jan (photo), echoed concerns on the set-up of the Attorney-General’s Chambers being “problematic” in managing public expectations for independent investigation and prosecution.

“I have written previously on the conflict of interest in the Attorney-General’s Chambers. In other countries like the United Kingdom, the attorney-general does not influence the decision to prosecute, except in certain special circumstances.

“Furthermore, the attorney-general in the UK answers directly to the Parliament. In Malaysia, the attorney-general has the sole discretion to prosecute cases and is instead answerable to the executive. This must change,” he stressed.

Questions surrounding Apandi’s independence and his decision to close the cases investigated against Najib have led the Malaysian Bar to file a judicial review against the decision.

Parliamentary Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has also filed a no-confidence motion against Apandi in Parliament, but yesterday it was rejected by Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.

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