AG’s sudden removal ‘unconstitutional’, lawyers suggest

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (pic) says removing Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail could disrupt any prosecution planned over the investigation on 1MDB. ― File pic
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (pic) says removing Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail could disrupt any prosecution planned over the investigation on 1MDB. ― File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 ― Several lawyers suggested today that the termination of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as Attorney-General (AG) may be “unconstitutional” as a tribunal should first decide before he can be removed from the position.

Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who is also a lawyer, warned that the move must be corrected as it will set a dangerous precedent that will “completely ruin” the independence of the AG’s office.

“It appears from a reading of this provision that a tribunal would be required to determine if an Attorney-General should be removed. His services cannot simply be terminated because of health reasons,” said Gobind in a statement, referring to Article 125(3) of the Constitution.

“The position is made even more peculiar now that Tan Sri Gani Patail is reported to have said he is unaware of his removal.”

At a press conference earlier today, Gobind said removing Abdul Gani could also disrupt any prosecution planned over the investigation on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Civil liberties lawyer Eric Paulsen concurred, citing Article 125(3) and 145(6) of the Federal Constitution.

“It's unconstitutional to remove the AG at the whim of the Prime Minister,” the second lawyer said.

Article 125(3) states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “shall appoint a tribunal” and “may on the recommendation of the tribunal remove the judge from office”.

Meanwhile, Article 145(6) states that an AG “shall not be removed from office except on like grounds and in the like manner as a judge of the Federal Court”.

Gobind added that an AG must have security of his tenure so he can carry out his duties without fear and favour, and must not be removed from his office so frivolously.

“In this case, Tan Sri Gani was also part of the Special Task Force probing matters relating to 1MDB and the prime minister. So how can he just be removed from office in an instant?” asked Gobind.

Former Bar president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was critical of the decision, but stopped short of calling the move “unconstitutional”, pointing out that the Agong’s consent still depends on the advice of the prime minister.

“It seems fraught with failure of due process … How can the Chief Secretary behave himself in such an appalling manner? There is a total failure of natural justice here.

“Why the unholy haste? To me this reeks of utter bad faith,” asked Ambiga, adding that the move had also lacked notice and genuine grounds.

Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail's tenure as Attorney-General ended yesterday, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa said today in a statement.

The chief secretary said Abdul Gani's tenure was officially ended on July 27 due to health reasons.

Taking his place will be Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, a former Federal Court judge.

Abdul Gani told Malay Mail Online today he was not aware of the decision that was announced earlier this morning.

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