Special Select Committee begin held two sessions on dividing roles of A-G and public prosecutor

KUALA LUMPUR: The Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on Human Rights, Election and Institutional Reform recently began its proceedings about dividing the responsibilities of the Attorney-General and the public prosecutor’s office

In a statement, its chairman and Selayang member of parliament, William Leong Jee Keen said the proceedings, which were held in two sessions, began on Oct 26 and were held to understand the need for the separation of powers and provide recommendations to the government for improvements to existing laws.

“In the first session, the committee held a meeting with the Cross-Party Parliamentary Group of Malaysia (KRPPM) – Integrity, Governance, and Anti-Corruption (IGAR), chaired by Tuan Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (Ledang), to gather their views on these reform efforts.

“In the second session, the committee met with non-governmental organisations, including the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) and the Institute For Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), to gather further information related to these reform efforts.”

He added the fundamental principles that were examined and understood by the committee in these proceedings include reasons for separating the roles of the public prosecutor from the Attorney-General as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

“This is where the Attorney General serves as the Government’s Legal Advisor under Article 145(2) and as the public prosecutor under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution.”

“It is also about issues and challenges in separating the roles of the public prosecutor from the role of the Attorney-General; and the suitable model to be adopted in Malaysia as well as recommendations for amendments to the Federal Constitution and other related laws if such a separation of powers is carried out.”

Leong said these principles are essential for forming a comprehensive understanding of the efforts to reform the separation of roles between the Attorney-General and the public prosecutor, which ultimately allows the committee to finalise recommendations to the government for improving the existing system and drive the institutional reform in the country.

“For the next proceedings, the committee will hold meetings with the Malaysian Bar Council, Sabah Law Society, The Advocates Association of Sarawak, criminal lawyers practitioners, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Prime Minister’s Department, and the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) of the Prime Minister’s Department.”

As a conclusion and complement to these proceedings, he said the committee will invite Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s defence lawyers, the Attorney-General, and former Attorneys-General to provide specific insights, especially regarding the recommendations and implications of separating both roles.

Previously, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said announced the establishment of the two special task forces to expedite the reformation efforts regarding the separation of powers of AGC and the public prosecutor’s office.

Azalina added that the decision to form the task forces was agreed upon in a meeting with the Special Select Committee on Human Rights, Elections and Institutional Reform members among others.

(First published by News Straits Times on 1 November 2023: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2023/11/973978/special-select-committee-begin-held-two-sessions-dividing-roles-g-and)