Bar Council urges AG not to go around threatening people

When the AG is not busy intimidating people, he goes to the other extreme, being a busybody, sycophant

PRESS STATEMENT If any prosecutor is aggrieved by the conduct or statements made by an accused person, he is not left without recourse. He can have the matter resolved with legal counsel for the accused person. If that fails, he can raise the matter with the court for appropriate orders to be made.

However, the prosecutor must not resort to any measure that does not promote public confidence in the fair and objective exercise of prosecutorial powers. For example, there should be no intimidation of an accused person.

It’s also unseemly for any prosecutor to threaten an accused person, for whatever reason, with public disclosure of evidence against that person, which has not yet been produced in court. Such conduct by the prosecution is to be deplored. It would encourage trial by media and compromise the integrity of criminal proceedings.

It would be viewed as an attempt to incriminate an accused person on unproven evidence. That would lead to prejudice and thwart a fair and just trial.

We have noted Attorney General Mohd Apandi Ali’s “final warning” to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to stop commenting on the criminal charges that he’s facing. The AG stressed that he might have to disclose evidence that the prosecution has against the Penang Chief Minister.

On a separate matter, Apandi Ali has swung to the other extreme.

In defending the Prime Minister against the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) allegations, the AG has placed himself in the obvious and untenable position of conflict of interest. He is disqualified — and must therefore recuse himself immediately — from exercising his prosecutorial powers as Public Prosecutor under Article 145(3).

Should there be any further recommendation for prosecution over these allegations, he would not be seen as a neutral decision–maker.

The AG should strictly and scrupulously observe his functions and duties as provided for in the Federal Constitution, in steadfastly upholding justice.

It’s not the role of the AG to speak for, or defend, any public official — such as the Prime Minister or any Minister — in respect of any allegation of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing committed in the public official’s private or personal capacity. The AG oversteps and confuses his constitutional functions and duties if he does so.

Again, he lends himself to being in a position of conflict of interest should there be any recommendation made to him, in his role as Public Prosecutor, for legal action or prosecution of that public official.

The allegations in the DoJ civil action were that funds misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) were fraudulently diverted through various intermediaries, and thereafter to various bank accounts, one or more of which were beneficially owned by “Malaysian Public Official 1”.

These allegations appear to relate to the private and/or personal conduct of the Prime Minister. By defending the Prime Minister, the AG exceeds his constitutional mandate.

 

Steven Thiru

President

Malaysian Bar Council

 

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