‘Rule of law’ still allows AG to reverse decisions, says Sivarasa

R Sivarasa says the AG can review or reverse decisions of a previous AG if he is of the view they are in error, without a legal or proper factual basis, or done for an ulterior or political motive.

PETALING JAYA: PKR leader R Sivarasa today dismissed criticism by those who said the government’s decision to withdraw corruption charges against Lim Guan Eng violated the rule of law.

Speaking to FMT, he said the principle of rule of law had several dimensions.

Firstly, it required that the government respect the final decision of courts and other authorised bodies. Secondly, it required the government to ensure that its own actions and decisions are in line with the established law.

Such decisions must be procedurally and substantively fair and have evidential basis, he said, adding that they should not be done selectively or from ulterior motives.

“‘Rule of law’ principles, therefore, do not mean the current attorney- general cannot review or reverse decisions of a previous AG when he is of the view that they are in error, without a legal or proper factual basis or done for an ulterior or political motive,” he said.

Sivarasa was referring to Umno’s criticism of the Penang High Court’s decision to acquit Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng of corruption.

Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa took to Twitter to pour scorn on Pakatan Harapan (PH) over its oft-repeated claim that it respected and upheld the rule of law.

“Goodbye, rule of law,” he had said. “In Malaysia, you do no wrong once you are in power. Courts are only meant for the opposition.”

Annuar was referring to the AG’s decision to withdraw the charge against Lim and the court’s decision to free him.

Sivarasa, the deputy rural development minister, said none of the current Umno leaders protesting Lim’s acquittal had stated any of the decisions by the AG were against the rule of law.

He said charges brought by the previous AG against many individuals, under the Sedition Act, Communications and Multimedia Act, Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and others, were also withdrawn by the current AG, either before or during the trials of these cases.

“For example, two charges brought against me under the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act were withdrawn recently by the current AG.

“This is within his prosecutorial discretion, as provided for under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution.”