The government sees no necessity to remove former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali from chairing the special task force that is reviewing legal issues regarding Malaysia’s claim on Pulau Batu Puteh, according to Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
In a response to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who yesterday walked out in protest from an interview by the task force saying that Apandi has a conflict of interest in the case, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) said Mahathir should have brought his objection to the government’s attention much earlier.
He said the task force chaired by Apandi has already carried out its duties for seven months now, where they have also submitted their interim and final reports.
“Following the walkout, the government sees no issue with the cabinet’s decision on October 29, 2021, to appoint Apandi as the chairperson of the special task force as due consideration has been made in setting up the task force.
“Thus, any objection to the position of the task force chairperson should have been brought to the government’s attention much earlier.
“The task force was appointed specifically to observe and study legal options that Malaysia has and investigate the decision to withdraw Malaysia’s appeal at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2018. It has already carried out its duties for seven months, where the task force has prepared its Interim Report and Final Report, and is now preparing for further action.
“It is impossible for me to simply remove Apandi as the task force chairperson without any justification when the cabinet has already decided to appoint him,” Wan Junaidi said in a statement.
Yesterday, Mahathir walked out in protest from the Attorney-General’s Chambers in Putrajaya minutes after arriving for an interview with a panel by a panel on tort misfeasance regarding the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh.
This comes after he learned that Apandi was still the chairperson despite his objection.
However, contradictory to Wan Junaidi’s statement today, Mahathir’s lawyers told reporters yesterday that the Langkawi MP had sent three objection letters against Apandi’s role in the task force.
Wan Junaidi also expressed his disappointment with Mahathir’s decision not to cooperate with the task force chaired by Apandi, saying that it only wanted to get the former premier’s story on the situation in 2018 when the then Pakatan Harapan administration decided to withdraw Malaysia’s appeal for Pulau Batu Puteh.
The special task force was set up with objectives, among others, to investigate claims that there was a possible issue of misfeasance by Mahathir in 2018 when the Pakatan Harapan administration he led decided to withdraw Malaysia’s appeal in a review bid over the country’s sovereignty dispute with Singapore over Pulau Batu Puteh.
Putrajaya had filed an application in 2017 for review of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision in 2008, which ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh. – Malaysiakini