The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) welcomes Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliamentary Affairs) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar’s remarks regarding the government’s intention of separating the Attorney General (AG) from the Public Prosecutor.
The study conducted by the government is a step in the right direction in light of the various high-profile corruption cases that have plagued Malaysia in recent years, with the 1MDB scandal a clear case study in which the presiding AG at that time Tan Sri Datuk Seri Abdul Gani Patail was dismissed by then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and replaced with Tan Sri Apandi Ali, whose subsequent actions diminished public trust due to conflict of interest and under political influence.
IDEAS’ paper on this subject published in 2016 can be a good starting point to assist the government in implementing this important reform.
The independence of the two offices must be seen as a key part in the larger package of institutional reforms that are already underway, such as the Anti-Hopping constitutional amendment, Parliamentary Services Act and the Political Financing Law.
It is also in the best interest for all Malaysians to see the separation between the AG and the PP as part and parcel of strengthening the rule of law as a core value of a democratic society, and to uphold the principle of separation of powers across the three branches of government especially to clearly demarcate the role of the AG for the executive and the duties of the PP for the judiciary.
IDEAS looks forward to working together with the government to offer our insights and recommendations on this crucial matter.
Besides papers by IDEAS and Bersih, studies must have already been carried out by previous committees such as the Institutional Reforms Committee, all of which should be considered thoroughly.
The Law Minister can in fact kickstart the process by devolving certain sections and procedural tasks within the AGC that involve prosecutions, which can already be done without a constitutional amendment.
(IDEAS is a nonprofit research institute dedicated to promoting solutions to public policy challenges, focusing on three overarching missions – advancing a competitive economy, ensuring trust in institutions and promoting an inclusive Malaysia.)