Kuala Lumpur, 30 June 2016 – Penang’s Chief Minister YB Lim Guan Eng was arrested by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) on 29 June 2016, following instructions from the Attorney General.
Responding to this development, IDEAS Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said: “It is good to see that the MACC has done their job in investigating this case without fear or favour. This is a high profile case and the reputation of the MACC is at stake. I am sure they have conducted their investigation with integrity and honesty.”
Wan Saiful reminded Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali that his own personal integrity and the integrity of the whole office of the Attorney General Chambers is being questioned by many observers.
“Malaysians have not forgotten that Tan Sri Apandi’s appointment as Attorney General was rushed by the Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak at the height of investigations on Najib himself. Soon after that the Malaysian Bar Council accused Apandi of going beyond his powers not just to exonerate Najib, but also to instruct the MACC to close all investigations against Najib.”
“Thus Apandi has a mountain to climb to prove his personal integrity and the trustworthiness of his office. No matter how honest he is, there will still be a significant portion of the population who will accuse Apandi of being a puppet of the Najib administration and that the decision to arrest YB Lim is part of a political conspiracy. At the moment, the level of trust in the institution of the Attorney General is very low. YB Lim’s arrest will only bring that trust even lower if nothing is done to remedy the situation, regardless of whether or not this prosecution is the correct course of action.”
As a solution, Wan Saiful proposes for Apandi to immediately initiate a reform: “Apandi can take a very important step to bring back trust to the institution of the Attorney General and on himself. He should immediately convene a task force to look at reforming the way the Attorney General works. The most important thing to do right now is to separate the role of Attorney General as chief legal adviser to the government from that of the office of the Public Prosecutor.”
“Apandi’s decisions are being seen as selective prosecution because he decided to exonerate and stop the investigations against the person who gave him his current job, yet he has gone ahead to prosecute Najib’s political opponent with much expediency. This creates the impression of a serious conflict of interest.”
“We really need two different individuals to be Attorney General and Public Prosecutor. Even if Apandi was the most honest person on earth, the public will still doubt his decisions because of these circumstances. It is in the interest of the nation, and in the interest of Apandi, to immediately start the reform process to free up prosecutorial decisions from perceived political influence.”
“Apandi should see this as an opportunity to fix this critical weakness in our institutional system. He has a chance to create a very positive legacy while in office.”
IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion. Our mission is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals. For more information, please visit http://ideas.org.my/