Puchong MP questions 37pc allocation cut for AGC’s prosecution division

Gobind Singh Deo speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court September 9, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Gobind Singh Deo speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court September 9, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — DAP’s Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo has questioned the government for reducing budget allocation for the prosecution division under the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) by nearly 37 per cent to just RM9.8 million next year.

The is despite a slight rise in the AGC’s overall allocation for next year at RM178 million, Gobind said, indicating this as something suspicious.

“In a Malay Mail report on November 16, it wrote — the prosecution takes 37 per cent cut even as overall allocation for AGC rises slightly in Budget 2021 — this is something suspicious.

“In the same report, a lawyer was quoted as saying the 37 per cent cuts will leave the prosecution division with RM9.8 million in 2021 compared to RM15.5 million in 2020,” he said during his debate on the Budget 2021 Bill in Parliament today.

“We need to look at the importance of the AGC in managing the security and uphold the rule of law in the country.

“This division was the one that heads the prosecution of various politicians including the Pekan MP,  former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and the same report [the lawyer] urged the government to explain the lower budget for prosecution work,” he said, referring also to a comparison made in the report — where RM85.5 million was allocated for the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

He also pointed out that it is not just 10 or 20 per cent that was cut, but 37 per cent, almost half from the money that was channelled to the division last year.

“To me this is important, because I think we should be looking into how we can encourage them to do their job well especially when they are taking high profile cases that has a global impact,” he said.

He added that, from one point of view, there is the lack of financial resources, but he questioned the non-action on reports questioning the allocation.

“[But] when we look at such stories being published, there is no response. Our government stays quiet, why? I want to know,” he asked.

Malay Mail’s check of the government’s estimated federal expenditure for 2021 showed that the AGC has four programmes: management, laws (covering activities such as the drafting and review of laws), litigation (covering activities such as prosecution, trials and appeals) and advisory (covering activities such as providing legal advice and carrying out research).

While there have been significant changes to some of the other units under the AGC, namely the states’ legal adviser office under the management programme and the Kuala Lumpur branch under the litigation programme which both recorded a jump of more than RM2 million each in allocations for next year, most of the rest either saw increases or reductions in the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

The prosecution division stands out as having the biggest change to its budget, with the cut of close to RM5.7 million.

 

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