PETALING JAYA: The Muslim Lawyers Association (PPMM) has opposed the Malaysian Bar’s suggestion that Ambiga Sreenevasan be made attorney-general (AG) by the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, calling it “poor judgement”.
Association president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the move would set a bad precedent, more so as Ambiga was a former president of the Bar.
He also said PPMM believed that Bar members were not consulted when the statement on the matter was made.
“As far as PPMM is concerned, no professional body or individual should make any stand in proposing names as the attorney-general,” he added in a statement today.
FMT today reported Bar president George Varughese as saying that Ambiga would be independent and free from political pressure, and also enjoy the confidence of the public and the legal fraternity.
He said the AG was the principal legal adviser to the government and it was important for the prime minister to have someone who was competent.
“In appointing a new AG, factors such as race, religion and gender must not form any part of the selection process,” he said in response to FMT’s query on whether the Bar had anyone in mind to be recommended to hold the post.
Zainul said Varughese’s “unilateral announcement” was uncalled for, and he should not restrict the options of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in advising the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to appoint the AG in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
“Article 145(1) of the Federal Constitution states that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the prime minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the attorney-general for the Federation,” he said in a statement.
“Is the Malaysian Bar attempting to name its own person to be the attorney-general?
“This may give the impression that the attorney-general will be beholden to the views of the Malaysian Bar,” he said.
Zainul claimed that the move would also go against the principles of neutrality and impartiality which the Bar advocated.
He said although PPMM respected the credentials of Ambiga, a former Bersih chairperson, the Bar was sending wrong signals to the public by proposing her.