Malaysia-Press Release | Impasse in Appointment of the Attorney General Violates the Rule of Law

Press Release | Impasse in Appointment of the Attorney General Violates the Rule of Law




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Press Release

Impasse in Appointment of the Attorney General Violates the Rule of Law

The Malaysian Bar is alarmed and deeply troubled at the reported impasse in the appointment of a new Attorney General. 

Over three weeks have lapsed since the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, announced that the current Attorney General, Tan Sri Dato' Sri Haji Mohamed Apandi Ali ("Tan Sri Apandi Ali"), is on garden leave.  Since then the Solicitor General has been temporarily performing the functions of the Attorney General.  It would thus seem that the intention was to remove Tan Sri Apandi Ali and to appoint a new Attorney General, but a stalemate has arisen. 

The Attorney General has a vital role to play as the principal legal adviser to the Government and the Public Prosecutor, and it is therefore imperative that a new Attorney General be appointed without further delay.

Article 145(1) of the Federal Constitution states: "The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation" [emphasis added].  As a constitutional monarch, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has a constitutional duty to abide by the Federal Constitution, which clearly stipulates that His Majesty must act on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must therefore appoint the person, as per the advice of the Prime Minister, as the new Attorney General, and end the impasse without delay.

The exercise of the constitutional duties by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in the appointment of the new Attorney General should not be stifled by extraneous views that take into consideration any criteria that are without constitutional basis, based on irrelevant considerations, or which could be deemed to be arbitrary or discriminatory.  The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must perform the role of a constitutional monarch strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution. 

The Malaysian Bar reiterates that the new Attorney General, as the principal legal adviser to the Government, should be an experienced career lawyer with all-round legal skills and expertise in public law, and be widely regarded and accepted as independent and able to implement law reforms of the Government effectively and impartially.  It must also be a prerequisite that the new Attorney General possess an unimpeachable reputation and character, integrity, honesty, and sound legal knowledge and learning.

Such an appointment would augur well for the many institutional reforms that the Government is introducing to birth a new beginning for our nation.

George Varughese
President
Malaysian Bar

3 June 2018

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