‘AG must protect Bar Council’s independence’
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