KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — The Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Human Rights, Election and Institutional Reform will summon the current and immediate past attorney generals to its proceedings on separating the functions of the office.
In a statement, the committee said it was also proposed that proceedings also cover several recent legal developments such as the conditional discharge of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the dismissal of abuse charges against former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
“Without denying the power of the AG under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution and the integrity of the AG and his officers, the committee is of the view that cases like these give a negative perception that there is interference by the AG’s Chambers by certain parties as well as different considerations on high profile cases,” it said.
It said that justice not only needs to be upheld, but must also be seen to be upheld.
The committee’s proceedings will include Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, AG Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh, and former AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun, among others.
Earlier today, lawmakers had argued over the matter in Parliament, with backbenchers accusing committee member Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim of feigning ignorance over the plan to summon both the sitting AG and his predecessor for the proceedings.
The call for the AG’s dual roles to be separated was reignited after the prosecution’s decision last week to discontinue a corruption trial involving 47 charges against Ahmad Zahid.
On December 3, 2022, Azalina upon her appointment as minister said her law and institutional reform portfolio’s foremost focus is to make the necessary amendments to laws to make them relevant to our times, citing the separation of power of the AG and public prosecutor to preserve the independence of the public prosecutor’s discretion as an example.
On September 8, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was reported saying that the proposal to separate the AG’s and public prosecutor’s roles had been presented to the Cabinet several months ago and that it has been referred to a parliamentary special committee for further study, adding that the process to implement this would require high costs and would also take time while also requiring a two-thirds majority support in Parliament.