PUTRAJAYA: The Judicial and Legal Service Officers Association (Jalsoa) says it will obtain feedback from its members on separating the roles of attorney-general (AG) and public prosecutor (PP).
Jalsoa president Abdul Razak Musa said survey forms would be distributed to some 2,200 members, and the findings sent to a committee under the AG’s Chambers set up to study the roles of AG and PP.
“Members were given a briefing by a committee member, but we will distribute survey forms to get their views as there are several consequences,” he told reporters after chairing the association’s annual general meeting here today.
“The views of our members need to be considered as a paper will be tabled to the Cabinet next year.”
A member of the committee told FMT that Article 145 of the Federal Constitution as well as some 15 federal laws must be amended in order to separate the two roles.
“There are some who feel that one person can hold both positions, but the AG must be of strong character and personality,” he said on condition of anonymity.
A committee, set up as a five-member Institutional Reform Committee (IRC) chaired by retired judge KC Vohrah, had proposed the separation of roles to the government in July last year.
This followed Pakatan Harapan’s pledge in its manifesto to separate the responsibilities of the AG from those of the PP.
It said the AG would be appointed from among qualified MPs, and would be a minister acting as legal adviser to the government.
The PP, meanwhile, would be an individual free from political interests with autonomy to carry out prosecutions.
The Malaysian Bar, which represents the interests of 18,000 lawyers in the peninsula, had also submitted its proposal to the IRC to separate the role of AG and PP.
Its immediate past president, George Varughese, said the AG presently has two separate and distinct roles under the constitution as he is both public prosecutor and principal legal adviser to the government.
“As the PP, the AG is required to act independently and impartially, and act as the guardian of public interest, uninfluenced by any political considerations.
“He thus finds himself in an unenviable and arduous position of conflict of interest from time to time, when the interest of his client – the government of the day – may not fully coincide with public interest,” he had said.
He added that past experience showed that such situations would arise when politicians are prosecuted for criminal offences.