Urgent need to reform Attorney-General’s Chambers to resolve conflict of interest
Kuala Lumpur, 28 January 2016 – The Attorney-General’s decision to close the RM2.6b case linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts has been criticised by the former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, amongst others.
Commenting on these developments, IDEAS Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said, “This decision did not come as a major surprise. The main issue here is that the Office of the Attorney-General and the Office of the Public Prosecutor are fused into one, which is a major conflict of interest.
On the one hand, he is supposed to act on public interest in his decisions to prosecute criminal cases, but on the other hand he is the chief legal advisor to the government. For cases that concern members of the government, it is obvious he has major conflict of interest issues.”
IDEAS, together with several other organisations, in its memorandum to reform the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has stressed the need to separate the Office of the Attorney-General and the Office of the Public Prosecutor to improve accountability and remove conflict of interest in that institution.
“I have to emphasise that without reforming the AG’s Chamber, any effort to improve MACC’s investigation quality and its independence will be of little use. The AG’s powers are presently all-encompassing. We need to urgently introduce a check and balance mechanism for anyone whose position is given such far-reaching powers. We must separate the AG Chambers from the Public Prosecutor.