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Friday, November 29, 2019

Remove PM’s power to pick law enforcement officers, says lawyer

Former Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan says this is one of the pledges made to Malaysians in Pakatan Harapan’s GE14 manifesto. (Bernama pic)
KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan government must remove the concentration of power in the hands of the prime minister, especially in the appointment of key law enforcement officers, a former Malaysian Bar president said.
Ragunath Kesavan said this was one of the pledges made to Malaysians in Pakatan Harapan’s general election manifesto that resulted the coalition being voted into power 18 months ago.
He said the public prosecutor, inspector-general of police (IGP) and the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should be loyal to their office — not to the prime minister or his government.
“However, these officers give their loyalty to the prime minister as he alone could decide on who occupies the key enforcement offices,” he told FMT.
He said the abuses were evident during the era of Najib Razak when the then prime minister was investigated over RM2.6 billion that was funnelled into his private bank accounts.
Ragunath said this in response to a call by the now disbanded Institutional Reforms Committee chairman KC Vohrah yesterday that the government should not delay the separation of powers between the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney-General’s Chambers so that rule of law can be upheld.
Vohrah, a retired Court of Appeal judge, had said such separation of powers would enable the person to carry out duties without being politically motivated.
Ragunath said the Cabinet, collectively, or a parliamentary select committee should decide on the appointment of the public prosecutor, the IGP and the MACC chief.
He also said the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Act needed further fine-tuning as there was still interference by the prime minister in the appointment of judges and judicial administrators.
“The JAC Act allows the prime minister to get additional names to be submitted to the Conference of Rulers if he is unhappy with the initial proposal,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the attorney-general could act as an adviser to the government, as is the practice in most democratic countries.
However, he said the Federal Constitution needs to be amended to accommodate the separation of powers. - FMT

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