While the Attorney-General has been described as being the 'biggest liability' to BN, he can also be seen as an 'asset', depending on who you talk to.
PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail may be a “major liability” for the Barisan Nasional’s 13th general election goals, but he is also a key BN weapon, according to analyst Lim Teck Ghee.
Lim, the Centre for Policy Initiatives director, said that this was because the top civil servant is also “widely perceived to bend the law and manipulate the legal system in favour of the government’s interests”.
“He is a major liability but he is also seen as a key BN asset… remember that he both controls the prosecution and advises the government; hence he is in a strategic position to engage in selective prosecution and in practising political partisanship,” Lim said in an e-mail.
The NGO leader added that such “partiality” may be necessary if there is a close election outcome or a hung Parliament.
“If it is a close race, the AG may be the one who can advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to rule in favour of the Barisan,” he said.
Yesterday, Social Care Foundation chairman Robert Phang said that Gani was the “biggest stumbling block to Barisan Nasional with regard to its general election goal” and must be axed.
Phang, a former MACC advisory panellist, described Gani as “shameless”, “perverse” and “arrogant” and listed several instances where the latter “wasted public funds pursuing useless cases and closing an eye to cases that are really of public importance”.
“I say to [Prime Minister] Najib [Tun Razak], remove Gani. Remove him, otherwise the government will continue to be ridiculed, derided and scorned,” Phang said. “If you are sincere in supporting the government, then don’t create problems for the government… his bad advice to the government has resulted in the government being scorned and Najib made to look very bad…” he said.
Tip of the iceberg
Meanwhile, asked if Gani should resign or be removed based on negative public perception, Lim did not mince his words when he said this should have been done much earlier.
“He should have been replaced much earlier for his negligence, incompetence and political bias in many high-profile political cases. What Phang has brought out is simply the tip of the iceberg on the many issues in which the A-G has failed the test of impartiality and blind justice,” he said.
Lim noted that there is “no chance at all the the current AG will be removed or replaced”.
He said this was because he is “a key weapon in the BN’s attempt to retain power by whatever means possible”.
Meanwhile, Umno legal adviser Hafarizam Harun said that Phang’s statement was “very unfair” and “tainted with mala fide[bad faith]”.
“Gani is a very fair person, good listener and apolitical. I’ve appeared with him or against him, his professionalism remained intact. Such statements are nothing but to tarnish the image of BN that Gani is under ‘dictate’ when he is not,” he said.
When contacted, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz said that such an issue was “not worth commenting on”.
“Does Phang represent the man on the street or the rakyat? This perception that the AG is bad… I can get another three persons to come and say something else. This is only a perception,” he told FMT.
An attempt by FMT to solicit a response from Gani was not successful.