On June 4 2016, IDEAS organised a public forum at the Persatuan Alumni Universiti Malaya (PAUM) Clubhouse, Kuala Lumpur titled “Should the Roles of the Attorney General (AG) and the Public Prosecutor (PP) be Separated?”. Speakers included Dato’ Rajpal Singh, Co-chairperson of Law Reform & Special Areas Committee and Deputy Chairperson of Criminal Law Committee, Bar Council, Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim, Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Cynthia Gabriel, Executive Director of The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4). R. Nadeswaran, theSun Editor under Special Reporting and Investigations, moderated the public forum.
Tricia Yeoh, Chief Operating Officer at IDEAS, gave the welcoming remarks and highlighted how the initiative has been pursued by IDEAS for over a year. This forum marks the second stage of the reform initiative where IDEAS is working towards raising greater public awareness on the reforms.
Following Tricia’s remarks, the speakers; moderator; YB Theresa, Member of Parliament from Seputeh and Dato’ Dr. R. Thillainathan, IDEAS Board Member launched the #NyahKorupsi Campaign. Members of the public were encouraged to promote the campaign through social media.
There are 4 key proposals under the #NyahKorupsi Campaign as follows:
- Creating a constitutional commission, i.e., the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC) with the autonomy to determine the operations of the MACC – including its recruitment policy.
- Expanding the investigative powers of the MACC by amending the MACC Act 2009.
- Amending the Official Secrets Act 1972 and Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 and introducing laws on freedom of information and asset declaration.
- Separating the offices of the Attorney General (AG) and the Public Prosecutor (PP).
Following this was the panel discussion moderated by R. Nadeswaran.
Dato’ Rajpal Singh highlighted how the role of the Attorney General and Public Prosecutor are usually separate in other mature democracies. He went on to discuss Article 145 in the Federal Constitution which gives the AG absolute powers. He concluded by stating that the AG should be the principal advisor to the government and the executive. The AG should not be involved in criminal proceedings which instead should be taken up by the PP.
Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim felt that a constitutional amendment is required with regards to the position of the AG and PP. Structurally the office of the AG is too complicated, there are too many administrative process that lead to a conflict between the two roles. Further, there needs to be a change in the mindset of Malaysians, such that there is an awareness on how democracy should work in Malaysia. Dato’ Zaid concluded, that nevertheless, the Prime Minister is responsible for reforming the AG’s Chambers and in acting in the interest of the general public.
Cynthia Gabriel stressed that civil societies need to stand up and address the issue of corruption. The public furthermore must take the initiative to understand the issue of the AG and PP. In terms of amending the constitution, Cynthia suggested that a review committee be set up to draft the amendments to Article 145-3. To ensure public confidence on the AG’s decision to prosecute a case, there should more credibility in the institution itself.
The public forum ended at 11:30am after a quick Q&A session.