The Bar Council has expressed alarm over the impasse in the appointment of a new Attorney-General and pointed out that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is constitutionally bound to accept the Prime Minister’s choice of candidate for the post.
Its president George Varughese said over three weeks have elapsed since Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that the current A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, was put on garden leave.
“The A-G has a vital role to play as the principal legal adviser to the Government and the Public Prosecutor, and it is therefore imperative that a new A-G be appointed without further delay,” he said.
He highlighted Article 145(1) of the Federal Constitution, which states: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the A-G for the Federation.
“As a constitutional monarch, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has a constitutional duty to abide by the Federal Constitution, which clearly stipulates that His Majesty must act on the advice of the Prime Minister.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must, therefore, appoint the person, as per the advice of the Prime Minister, as the new A-G and end the impasse without delay,” he said.
Varughese said the exercise of the constitutional duties by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in the appointment of the new Attorney-General should not be stifled by extraneous views that take into consideration any criteria that are without constitutional basis, based on irrelevant considerations, or which could be deemed to be arbitrary or discriminatory.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must perform the role of a constitutional monarch strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution.
“The council reiterates that the new A-G, as the principal legal adviser to the Government, should be an experienced career lawyer with all-round legal skills and expertise in public law, and be widely regarded and accepted as independent and able to implement law reforms of the Government effectively and impartially.
“It must also be a prerequisite that the new A-G possess an unimpeachable reputation and character, integrity, honesty, and sound legal knowledge and learning.
“Such an appointment would augur well for the many institutional reforms that the Government is introducing to birth a new beginning for our nation,” said Varughese. – The Star