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Friday, July 29, 2016

The integrity of the Attorney General — Halimah Mohd Said

Image result for AG Apandi

See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/the-integrity-of-the-attorney-general-halimah-mohd-said#sthash.ofuDYX1N.dpuf
OCTOBER, 19 — As one of the foremost institutions constitutionally enacted to safeguard the integrity of the country’s legal system, the Attorney General’s Chambers must exercise the utmost care and wisdom in interpreting our laws.

The Attorney General who heads the AGC is the principal legal adviser to the government and also the highest ranking public prosecutor in the country.

The AG, Tan Sri Mohd Apandi Ali, and officers of the AGC are therefore tasked with the heavy responsibility of knowing every aspect of the law of the land and manifesting this knowledge in the most judicious legal decisions.

Their exposure to and training in legal reasoning would equip them with outstanding skills to examine the minutest detail in a case under investigation in order to recommend a solution which is acceptable to the government.

In this, the AG must take cognizant of the fact that the government of Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy as laid out in the Federal Constitution is the sum total of all its branches — the executive, legislative and judicial. The role of the Conference of Rulers is supreme.

While the AG’s function is to advise the government on legal matters in order to ensure the nation’s integrity, the other institutions in the country constitute important parts of the government machinery.

A befitting analogy is that the AGC represents the head with a legal brain chamber. But without the other chambers of the brain, the heart, liver, kidneys and other vital organs the government body would cease to function. Without the cooperation of and input from the other institutions, the AG’s decisions would be disjointed, one-sided and biased.

As the arms and legs and even fingers and toes that keep the country balanced and upright and its cogs and wheels running, the rakyat have the right to comment on the issues that affect them, especially with regard to how their money is spent.

In fact, as part of the government’s more inclusive strategies, we are invited to give suggestions on current developments such as the Budget, Education Blueprint and other government transformation plans. We applaud this move towards greater people participation in Malaysia’s young democracy.

However, the AG’s hurried 10 minute press conference on the 1MDB probe at which no questions were entertained was a poor demonstration of inclusiveness at work. What was even more disconcerting was the AG’s decision to dismiss Bank Negara Malaysia’s application for a review of the central bank’s investigations into 1MDB.

As a concerned rakyat who is utterly bewildered by the manipulations and manoeuvrings by politicians, accountants, bankers, lawyers, board members and other professionals in the IMDB fiasco, I appeal to Tan Sri Apandi to show exemplary leadership in sorting out the webs in this national fiasco — a financial scandal which will have far-reaching international repercussions detrimental to the nation’s image.

The legal basis of the AG’s arguments to close Bank Negara’s probe is inadequate to handle the complex banking and accounting issues involved.

If Bank Negara, the institution tasked with handling the country’s monetary movements is calling for a review of its own investigations because of possible undetected anomalies, there’s no good reason why this move towards greater transparency and accountability should not be allowed.

If there is suspicion that the central bank’s officials were not thorough in conducting the banking transactions and may have committed an offence, all the more reason why the AG must support a review. The AG’s argument that there must be proof that an offence has been committed is unacceptable as the only sure way to get proof is to reopen the investigation.

In this, Malaysia’s Attorney General must demonstrate the highest level of legal reasoning coupled with unblemished personal integrity in his allegiance to the country and the Yang DiPertuan Agong who appointed him.

* Datin Halimah Mohd Said is president of the Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE).
 
My comments :  Salam Datin.  Lama tak jumpa. Congratulations for leaving the "Dark Side". May the force be with you.  In February last year I did not renew my membership in the MACC's Advisory Panel although I was offered another two years.  The 1MDB scandal burst open in July.  Am I doubly glad now.

As a member of the MACC's Advisory Panel I do recall raising the 1MDB issue but at that time there were no "reports" and revelations and it did not go beyond that.

The malady is all across the board. 

I went to the Post Office and there was a child across the counter. Staff bring their kids to work. At a public university, kids eat and sleep on mats in offices where their parents are lecturers. Someone posted here that whole families who visit the sick at hospitals camp out in hallways and corridors amidst the wards and rooms.  This morning I was at another government department and young staff spoke loudly that they were going to the 'surau' - at 10:40 am !!

There seems to be a return to the conditions that preceded the time before TV arrived in the country.  There is a complete collapse of professionalism and ignorance of rules and decorum all across the government's administrative machinery and also across the society.

The Portugese took Melaka in 1511. The Dutch took over in 1641 and held it for 184 years until 1825. 

The British first arrived in Penang in 1591.  195 years later in 1786 Penang was ceded to the British. 33 years later in 1819 we lost Singapore as well.  So the Portugese, the Dutch and the British did not colonise us in one day.  

We were colonised because we were backward -  in almost every aspect of the word. The British were not superior. They were just more modernised. There was not much technology then. We had the same cannons as them. But they were more organised, more disciplined,  more scientific in their thinking and professional.

Little or none of this existed in the feudal and village based society that existed in this land at that time.

Oh yawn !! It then took us 171 more years to become independent. 

And we became independent because we too acquired the skills, the ability and the systems that the British had which were necessary to be free and independent.  

Our little neighbour to the South has even surpassed the British in many ways.  From independence until the 1980s the leftover systems from 200 years of British rule provided us a strong momentum to become a modern people. The system was working well.

We realised that we had to change. We had to catch up. We took out tens of  thousands of young people from the villages and cloistered them away in the sanitised environment of the residential schools - away from the debilitating atmosphere of the villages, the poverty and all the things that made them poor.  Life and logic in the residential schools was different.  Compared to the villages, it was modern. In those days staff did not bring their kids to work in government departments, they did not leave at 10.40 am for the surau and so many other things.

Unfortunately since the 1970s and especially since the 1980s we began meddling with a system that was not broken. We began changing things. We began to break things.

Now in the 21st century the village seems to have crept back into society.  There is no professionalism (as per your comments above). There is no discipline, there is little or no science and as a result organisations are breaking down. Systems of government are breaking down. 

The village from the time before TV is creeping into the mainstream. 

We progressed the fastest when religion was kept out of public life. Now religion occupies center place in public life. We are regressing faster than ever.

What we see now - the unprofessional AG, the government machinery that has failed to arrest corruption or remove a diseased leader - are just symptoms of a larger malaise. 

If we get a new AG or a new leader, but we do not fix the larger problem, the problem will only repeat itself.  

I hope we can all stand together and speak about the right things.
 

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