KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 ― The Malaysian Bar is set to debate at its annual general meeting (AGM) a motion that calls on Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali to quit as Attorney-General amid high-profile controversies.
The motion proposed by Charles Hector, Francis Pereira and Shanmugam Ramasamy also calls for the Solicitor-General to assume the role of public prosecutor in the cases that may involve the prime minister, state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), former 1MDB unit SRC International, and the transfer of RM2.6 billion into the prime minister’s personal accounts, citing the AG’s “disability” to continue to act as public prosecutor in such cases.
“Therefore, it is hereby resolved that: A. That the Malaysian Bar calls on Mohamed Apandi Ali to immediately resign as Attorney-General, for the good of Malaysia, to restore public confidence and perception of the rule of law, in particular the administration of criminal justice in Malaysia,” read the motion sighted by Malay Mail Online.
The motion noted that Section 376(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code states that the Solicitor-General shall act as public prosecutor in case of the AG’s inability to act.
It added that such an inability appeared to be present following Apandi’s decisions in cases related to the prime minister and state-owned investment firms, which merited the call for Solicitor-General to intercede.
The motion noted that the AG has many roles and responsibilities, including providing legal advice to the Cabinet or ministers and deciding on prosecutions for possible offences, some of which may be conflicting obligations.
“It is absurd when the Attorney General [is] considering instituting criminal proceedings, and at the same time, is also seen to be personally providing legal advice to the suspect/s or the potential accused,” said the motion.
Apandi, who replaced Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as AG last July after the latter’s services were terminated purportedly due to health reasons, said he found no wrongdoing in the cases of former 1MDB unit SRC International and the RM2.6 billion deposited into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s accounts prior to Election 2013.
Apandi also ordered the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to close both cases, an order that the agency is seeking for him to review.
“The pronouncement of the Attorney General about the guilt/innocence of parties being investigated, may be contrary to the United Nations Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, in particular Article 10, which states that, ‘The office of prosecutors shall be strictly separated from judicial functions’. The determination of guilt or innocence is a function of the Judiciary, not the Attorney General,” said the motion.
“The power to commence investigations and discontinue investigations rest(s) with the relevant investigative authorities, and not with the Attorney General/Public Prosecutor. The duty of the Public Prosecutor is merely to determine the sufficiency or insufficiency of evidence for the purpose of prosecution, and if it is determined that the evidence is insufficient, then Investigation papers are returned to the investigating authorities to do further investigation,” the motion added.
The motion expressed concern about the perception that Apandi may have acted to derail investigations against Najib or government entities, noting that the MACC has yet to be given the relevant authorisation to complete investigations after asking for the AG’s permission since last December to get mutual legal assistance in order to obtain evidence from other countries.
“As such, even if Mohamed Apandi Ali may personally not be guilty of any wrongdoing or dereliction of duties, for good of Malaysia and for the improvement of public perception of the administration of justice, we may have to take drastic actions including the appointment of a new Attorney General,” said the motion.
The motion also urged Apandi to resign as a member of Lembaga Tabung Haji’s board of directors, saying that an AG should not be a director of any legal entity as it would compromise their independence.
The Malaysian Bar’s 70th AGM is scheduled for this Saturday.