Separation of powers: First steps afoot in splitting Public Prosecutor from AG, says Azalina

PETALING JAYA: Plans are afoot to look at the feasibility of separating the Public Prosecutor's Office (PP) from the Attorney General's Chamber (AGC), says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The newly minted Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) announced this following a meeting between the Legal Affairs Department and the AGC's Solicitor General Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh on Tuesday (Dec 6) on the matter.

ALSO READ: Government still studying implications of separating powers of AG and public prosecutor, says Wan Junaidi

"Following this meeting, the AGC will come up with a paper on the refinements of the AG/PP split.

"This is the first step in separating the powers between the AGC and public prosecutor and I hope the cooperation will bear fruit as soon as possible," she said in a Twitter post on Wednesday (Dec 7).

There have been calls from several quarters over the years for the separation of the powers of the two entities aimed at ensuring the independence of the PP with regard to prosecuting cases.

In September, Azalina's predecessor Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that the government was still mulling separating the powers of the two entities.

Although acknowledging that this was the practice adopted in many other countries, Wan Junaidi noted that implementing it here would require amendments to the Federal Constitution apart from additional government expenditure.

On Sunday (Dec 4), The Star highlighted a commentary by International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) legal expert Prof Dr Abdul Ghafur Hamid, calling on the recently installed unity government to separate the two entities.

ALSO READ: Separating the AG from the PP

At present, he said that there was a fusion of the two powers under the Attorney-General based on Article 145 of the Federal Constitution.

He said this could lead to allegations of political interference through selective prosecution, non-pursuance of existing charges, and withdrawal of charges for those aligned with the government.

Dr Abdul Ghafur noted that the PP should not be affiliated with any political party, free from any interference by the government of the day, and should independently make decisions without fear or favour.

His tenure should also be secured without depending on the change of the government.

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