Azalina wants RCI to break up AGC ‘super-agency’, govt ‘open’ to considering

The RCI should look into separating roles of AGC to avoid internal conflicts of interest, says MP.

Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said has called on Putrajaya to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to reform the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

Among others, she said the RCI should look into breaking up the roles of the AGC to avoid internal conflicts of interest.

“The AGC is a super-agency with four roles: government’s legal adviser, public prosecution, the governing body of lower court judges and the law-drafting body.

“The embodiment of the first three roles in one agency has constituted a severe conflict of interest that has clouded the practice of rule of law and heightened allegation of selective prosecution and impunity, therefore affecting business confidence reflected amongst others in the Corruption Perceptions Index.

“This perception must be corrected,” she said in a statement today (July 23).

Azalina said the RCI should study separating these roles so that the AGC only acts as the government’s legal counsel.

Prosecutorial services should be made an independent body headed by the solicitor-general, while lower court judges should be placed under the judiciary’s purview, she added.

As for law-drafting, the former law minister said this should be done by an independent Parliamentary Draftsman Office, which serves the government and both houses of Parliament.

Azalina also recommended that an AGC RCI look into the division of labour between law minister and attorney-general, or if the positions can be combined as it is in Canada and New Zealand.

She said the RCI should consist of top constitutional experts “with impeccable impartiality and comparative insights”.

In calling for the commission to be formed, Azalina said “recent developments” have deepened the public’s trust deficit in the AGC.

“Unless resolved, (the AGC’s) continued modus operandi will inadvertently contribute towards the current political impasse and stand in the way of the government’s endeavour to rebuild public confidence and support for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and flailing economy,” she added.

Azalina did not elaborate on which recent developments she was referring to.

Earlier this month, Attorney-General Idrus Harun said Muhyiddin Yassin can continue on as prime minister, after Umno decided to withdraw support for the latter.

Idrus, however, argued that a prime minister can’t be removed via a statement.

Separately, Azalina who is also the Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker, called for Parliament to summon Idrus for the upcoming session in his capacity as the government’s legal advisor, to answer any relevant questions regarding the emergency.

In a statement later, de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan said the government was open to considering such an RCI.

“The government has no objections to consider setting up an RCI if there is a need based on facts, laws, and also the steps of certain quarters which may raise questions on the integrity and confidence towards the legal body which is supposed to act as the government’s legal adviser and gate-keeper of criminal justice,” he said.

He also said the government is already planning to split the functions of the attorney-general and solicitor-general.

He said this matter would be improved by conducting comparative research with other countries, to see if it is suitable for Malaysia.

MALAYSIAKINI

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