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Friday, July 29, 2016

Sri Ram: AG must act honestly without fear of powerful figures

The public expects an attorney-general (AG) to act honestly without fear of powerful national and local figures, to uphold the law, senior lawyer and former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today.
He said that as the guardian of public interests, the AG should act without favouring his relatives, friends, or supporters.
“The public of whose interests he is the guardian has a right to expect him to act honestly, without fear of powerful national and local figures.
“The law and (Federal) Constitution give the AG the exclusive power – respecting direction and control over criminal matters – to exercise it honestly and professionally,” he said.
Sri Ram added that the AG's principal concern was to maintain the rule of law so that there would be no anarchy and to maintain standards in public life.
“If he did not do his duty honestly and properly, the public would be able to show their disapproval,” he said when submitting on the judicial challenge mounted by former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim against attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali's decision not to prosecute Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
He said the question before the court was whether the office of the AG had acted properly (on whether to prefer the charge against Najib).
“That will require an examination of the material including the oral evidence of witnesses who may be called to give evidence.

“The applicant (Zaid) must be given a chance to put his evidential case before the court in full so that what actually happened may be gleaned.
“If the material shows that it is not correct to let the prime minister off for what he has supposedly done, then this court should be given an opportunity to do so,” he said.
In arguing why this challenge should be granted permission to be heard on its merits, and that it is not a frivolous and vexatious application, Sri Ram said the public would be able to show its disapproval, if not in courts, then elsewhere by voting, as a last resort, against the party of which he (the AG) is a party member.
[More to follow]


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