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Sunday, July 31, 2016

AG urged to split his twin roles also

Lawyers hail CJ's move to separate the judicial service and legal service as timely although not new.
PETALING JAYA: A proposal by the Chief Justice to separate the Judicial Service and the Legal Service has been given the thumbs up by various lawyers who say that the proposal is timely, although not new.
Speaking to FMT, lawyer Razlan Hadri Zulkifli said that the Bar Council had been urging the government for “quite some time” to make the services separate. He was relieved that the Chief Justice, Arifin Zakaria, had finally taken up the initiative.
“It’s a system that has been in place since Merdeka and I for one fully support the Cheif Justice’s proposal to finally do something about it,” he said.
Eric Paulsen, executive director of the human rights group Lawyers for Liberty also expressed relief, saying that a separation of the two services would end doubts about the objectivity of the judicial system.
“It is certainly an excellent idea,” he said, and noted that it had been called for “many times over the decades”.
“This will ensure that there is no perception or even a whiff of doubt that the judiciary is objective which is different from the situation right now where officers are interchangeable.”
Judicial officers (magistrates and sessions judges) and legal officers (federal counsel and deputy public prosecutors) both receive appointments as legal officers by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, and are posted either to the Judicial Division or the Legal Division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
However, they can moved to serve in either division.
The Chief Justice proposes that the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court be the administrative head of the Judicial Division, and the Attorney-General (AG) to head the Legal Division. Movements across divisions would be allowed only with the permission of both heads of departments.
Another lawyer who applauded the proposal was Haniff Khatri.
He took to Facebook yesterday to note that it was also timely for the AG to look into the possibility of separating the AG’s function as chief legal adviser to the Federal Government, and as the Public Prosecutor.
He said that the AG should make a policy decision to separate the two roles so that the AG continues as Public Prosecutor, while the Solicitor- General should maintain and carry out the function of chief legal adviser.
This separation would avoid a conflict of interest and be in consonance with the rule of natural justice, he said.
He urged the AG to carry out the separation of functions immediately.

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