‘AG must pro­tect Bar Coun­cil’s in­de­pen­dence’

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

KUALA LUMPUR: The At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s role is to pro­tect and pro­mote the in­de­pen­dence of the Bar Coun­cil and not jus­tify a move to con­trol it, a for­mer judge said.

Re­fer­ring to the pro­posed amend­ments to the Le­gal Pro­fes­sions Act (LPA), for­mer Court of Ap­peal judge Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus urged the govern­ment to re­con­sider its move to ta­ble the amend­ments which would in­ter­fere with the in­de­pen­dence of the Bar Coun­cil.

He said At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Tan Sri Mo­hamed Apandi Ali’s rea­sons and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion on the amend­ments as re­ported in the me­dia are “un­ac­cept­able” and are a “great dis­ap­point­ment”.

“The AG is sup­posed to be a guardian of pub­lic in­ter­est. He is sup­posed to en­sure that all branches of the govern­ment ob­serve the Con­sti­tu­tion and the rule of law.

“He should play this con­sti­tu­tional role without fear or favour of the govern­ment of the day,” Hishamudin said yes­ter­day at a pub­lic fo­rum on the “Pro­posed Amend­ments to the LPA: Se­ri­ous Threat to the In­de­pen­dence of the Bar Coun­cil”.

He said it is the AG’s solemn and no­ble duty to pro­tect and pro­mote the in­ter­ests and in­de­pen­dence of the Bar.

“In­stead, it is tragic be­cause what we are wit­ness­ing to­day is an AG who does ex­actly the op­po­site, an AG who sup­ports or jus­ti­fies a move that will emas­cu­late the Malaysian Bar,” he said.

Hishamudin also called for the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion to be amended to en­sure the in­de­pen­dence and in­tegrity of the AG’s role and func­tion.

“It is high time that the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion is amended so that the AG is not ap­pointed by the Yang di-Per­tuan Agong, on the ad­vice of the Cab­i­net or the prime min­is­ter.

“The Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion should be amended such that the AG is ap­pointed by the Yang di-Per­tuan Agong on the rec­om­men­da­tion of an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion,” he sug­gested.

Hishamudin added that the law should be amended to en­sure that the AG could not be sum­mar­ily re­moved by the govern­ment but en­joys a se­cu­rity of ten­ure like judges of the Fed­eral Court.

He said the AG should only be re­moved by a spe­cial tri­bunal on grounds of mis­be­haviour or in­ca­pac­ity.

“The cur­rent ar­range­ment of the ap­point­ment and re­moval of the AG places the AG in a vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion.

“Of course, this by it­self is no ex­cuse for the AG not to per­form his ex­pected con­sti­tu­tional role of up­hold­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion and the rule of law.

“The cit­i­zens ex­pect our hold­ers of high pub­lic of­fice to per­form their du­ties without fear or favour.

“The cur­rent con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion can give rise to the per­cep­tion that the AG is be­holden to the PM or ex­ec­u­tive,” Hishamudin said. – by Karen Aruke­samy

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