Kuala Lumpur, 1 December 2016 – The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) applauds the Cabinet’s decision to separate the Judicial and Legal Services. The move would have the Federal Court Registrar to head the judicial service, instead of the Attorney General. Prior to this, the AG was head of both said divisions resulting in the incumbent being placed in difficult and often, impossible circumstances of being in charge of both divisions.
IDEAS Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said,”We are very grateful to Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria for pushing this forward, and to the Cabinet for making this much needed change happen. IDEAS has long held the view and has campaigned for the separation of powers in the Attorney General’s Chambers. The conflict of administrative powers has been one of the issues raised and discussed extensively in our policy roundtables.”
“This is a good first step towards removing doubts and concerns over conflicts of interest in the role of the Attorney General. The AG as the Government’s lawyer should be free to lead the legal division of the judiciary. The separation is necessary as judges must also have autonomy and administrative control over their own judicial matters.The Federal Court Registrar is therefore best and rightfully placed to handle the appointment and disciplining of judicial officers.”
“It is timely to also consider the next step – that is to separate the role of the AG from that of the Public Prosecutor. The Public Prosecutor must be unencumbered from prosecuting cases in the public’s interest. Under existing laws, the AG must act as both the lawyer to the Government as well as the Public Prosecutor. This makes it extremely difficult for the incumbent to deal with offences committed by members of the government as he is forced to act as both their lawyer and their prosecutor. For this first step in separating the Judicial and Legal Services, I applaud the government and the AG for going ahead with it and I urge them to not stop here,” concluded Wan Saiful.