Bar calls for review of representation process in criminal cases

The attorney-general has the discretion under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings in criminal cases.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has urged the public prosecutor to review the process of representation, saying it may jeopardise fairness and efficiency in criminal proceedings.

Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said the new procedure initiated by the public prosecutor early this month would also lead to difficulties in criminal practice.

“The Bar calls on the public prosecutor to conduct a further review of the procedure in the interest of promoting an efficient and effective system of administration of justice,” he said in a statement today.

In a recent circular, Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas, who is also the public prosecutor, said the new procedure for considering representations, involving the solicitor-general III, solicitor-general II and solicitor-general, was “multi-layered” and would “take time”.

He also said there should be no adjournment of trial while representations are being deliberated.

Lawyers, representing accused persons, make representation to the public prosecutor to withdraw or reduce charges based on certain facts and circumstances.

Such applications are made to the AG who has the discretion under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings in criminal cases.

Fareed said the process should be overhauled in the wake of recent decisions by the public prosecutor to discontinue or withdraw proceedings in several high-profile cases.

Last month, a woman was cleared of murdering her Indonesian maid after her lawyer made representation to the public prosecutor.

The acquittal given to Ambika MA Shan sparked a backlash from local civic groups as well as Indonesia, which said Adelina Lisao had been denied justice.

Fareed said the procedure of deliberating representations should be undertaken by a committee instead.

Cases involving the death penalty could be handled by a committee of high-ranking officials in the AG’s Chambers (AGC) while another committee comprising senior state deputy public prosecutors and senior officers from Putrajaya could deal with other cases, he said.

He added that this would be more streamlined and efficient and would take much less time.

He also said the AGC should not object to a deputy public prosecutor agreeing to a reasonable request for adjournment pending the outcome of a committee’s consideration of a representation.