Apandi Ali: The 65-year-old judge who became AG amid 1MDB probe

Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali (pic) replaces Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as Attorney-General. ― Picture taken from the official website of the Federal Court of Malaysia's Office of Chief Registrar
Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali (pic) replaces Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as Attorney-General. ― Picture taken from the official website of the Federal Court of Malaysia's Office of Chief Registrar

KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — In an unusual route, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, 65, went from Federal Court judge to Attorney-General (AG) amid an ongoing investigation on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) headed by his predecessor.

The senior judge has an accomplished career spanning over 42 years — having acted as a judge, advising clients both as a government lawyer and during his private practice.

As Federal Court judge, Apandi is most known for a controversial decision in 2013, when he chaired a three-member Court of Appeal bench that ruled unanimously against allowing the Catholic Church to use the word “Allah” in its weekly publication the Herald.

In that same year, Apandi also led a Court of Appeal panel that decided in a unanimous ruling to acquit former police commandos Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri of the high-profile 2006 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu. Both have since been convicted of murder.

Earlier this year, then Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim objected to Apandi being on the Federal Court panel in his second sodomy case.

Apandi is known to have been an active Umno member and had previously held the Kelantan Umno treasurer post before taking office.

Apandi’s career began after he graduated from University of London with a law degree in 1972, before going on to serve as a magistrate in Kuala Terengganu from 1973 to 1975.

He was then appointed director of the Legal Aid Bureau in his birthplace Kota Baru for the next two years, later acting as deputy public prosecutor for Kelantan and Terengganu from 1977 to 1980.

Apandi then became legal adviser to the Ministry of Industry and Trade for a two-year stint, before entering private practice and setting up his own firm in 1982.

In 2003, Apandi once again entered civil service, starting off as a judicial commissioner in in the Kuantan High Court, before being confirmed as a judge on December 21, 2004.

In his steady rise to his Federal Court position, Apandi was sent to the Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 15, 2007 and served there until his promotion on April 14, 2010.

After another three years, Apandi was promoted again on September 30, 2013 to the Federal Court, with the judiciary’s website stating that he is still holding on to that post.

In the latest turn to his legal career, Apandi replaced Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who had been AG for 13 years.

Today, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa said Abdul Gani’s tenure as AG ended yesterday due to health reasons.

Abdul Gani, however, will continue to serve as a judicial and legal services officer until October 6 this year, when he reaches his compulsory retirement age of 60. Apandi is five years older than Abdul Gani.

When contacted after Ali Hamsa’s announcement, Abdul Gani told Malay Mail Online that he was not aware of the development and declined comment.

At the time of writing, Apandi has yet to respond to Malay Mail Online’s enquiry and confirm his acceptance of the AG post.

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