The federal government is discussing the possibility of separating the roles of the Attorney General (AG) and the Public Prosecutor (PP).
In a statement today, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said this was being considered in order to build confidence in the country’s judicial system as well as the Attorney General’s Chambers.
“In order to guarantee fairness and by adhering to the rule of law, the government is taking steps to separate the functions of the AG and the PP in order to avoid any conflicts of interests.
“This matter shall be improved by comparing them with other nations to find a suitable solution for us,” he said.
Currently, the AG is also the Public Prosecutor.
The previous Pakatan Harapan government had proposed separating the roles after citing the apparent conflict during the Najib administration, but never took concrete action to do so.
As the AG is also the government’s chief legal adviser, he would be in conflict if he were in a situation where he would have to prosecute the prime minister, who is also the person responsible for appointing the AG.
In addition to that, Takiyiddin also said the government would consider calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) if there is a question of integrity.
“The government is not opposed to calling for an RCI if there is a need for it. If there are individuals who raise concerns of integrity and confidence against the legislature then the RCI will be called to be the gatekeepers of criminal justice,” he added.
Earlier today, deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Azalina Othman Said said the government must establish an RCI to reform the AGC to resolve the trust deficit that the people have on the institution.
“To demonstrate the government’s commitment to improve governance and uphold the Rule of Law, the government should take this timely opportunity to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on reforming the AGC,” she wrote on Facebook.
The Pengerang MP noted that the AGC’s function as the government’s legal adviser, public prosecutor, and the governing body of lower court judges showed that it was in conflict of interest in its various roles.
This, she said, has clouded the practice of rule of law and heightened allegations of selective prosecution and impunity.
The situation has also affected business confidence, which has been reflected in the Corruption Perceptions Index, among others.
She urged that an RCI be set up to separate these roles and to allow the AGC to function only as the government’s legal counsel.