PETALING JAYA: A government backbencher has urged Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to consider appointing Federal Court judge Zainun Ali as attorney-general (AG), saying she has demonstrated the will to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour.
Speaking to FMT, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said Zainun had proven that she has what it takes to be an AG.
‘”She has the quality of a credible AG due to her courage and integrity,” he said.
His comments followed the government’s decision to ask AG Mohamed Apandi Ali to go on unrecorded leave amid new investigations into state fund 1MDB.
Solicitor-General Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek is presently standing in for him.
Zainun, 66, was elevated to the Federal Court in 2012. She was recently appointed to the Global Judicial Integrity Network of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
She retired last month after reaching the mandatory retirement age but was given a six-month extension.
She was one of the judges in the apex court which ruled that a 1988 amendment to the Federal Constitution to check the powers of the judiciary was contrary to the basic structure of the country’s supreme law.
Zainun, who delivered the landmark judgment, said the amendment undermined the principle of separation of powers as well as the judiciary’s independence.
Zainun also sat on the Federal Court bench which declared the unilateral conversion of M Indira Gandhi’s three children to Islam by her ex-husband without her consent and without the children’s presence unlawful.
In the landmark ruling on Jan 29, the apex court decreed that the consent of both parents was needed to convert a minor, putting to rest years of conflict over the unilateral conversion of children.
Last week, Ramkarpal urged Apandi to relinquish his post in light of new revelations regarding 1MDB by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Mohd Shukri Abdull.
Shukri had revealed that the Saudi prince whom former prime minister Najib Razak alleged had given him RM2.6 billion as a donation could not prove it with any supporting documents.
He also noted claims by the US Department of Justice that the money had in fact been diverted from 1MDB.
Apandi, in a highly publicised press conference on Jan 26, 2016, declared that the RM2.6 billion was a donation from the Saudi royal family and cleared Najib of any wrongdoing.
Apandi’s three-year contract was initially set to expire on July 27. However, the previous Barisan Nasional government gave him a further three-year extension last month.