The Malaysian Bar today reminded Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali of his responsibility to act impartially, after the latter warned Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng against commenting the two corruption charges.
“It is not the role of the Attorney General to speak for, or defend, any public official — such as the Prime Minister or any Minister — in respect of any allegation of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing committed in the public official’s private or personal capacity.
“The attorney-general oversteps and confuses his constitutional functions and duties if he does so,” said Bar president Steven Thiru in a statement.
Apandi had issued a “final warning” Lim over several comments he made in public, criticising the charges against him.
“Suffice to say here at the moment, that most of the evidence against him (Lim) are documentary in nature and all those documents are in my possession,” Apandi had said.
Lim and businesswoman Phang Li Koon were arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Wednesday, over the purchase of his Pinhorn Road bungalow from Phang.
He was charged for allegedly abusing his powers to approve a rezoning of land from agricultural to residential, to Magnificent Emblem. The offence carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of at least five times the total gratification.
He also pleaded not guilty to a charge of misusing his position as chief minister when he purchased his bungalow located at no. 25, Jalan Pinhorn for RM2.8mil from Phang, when the actual market value was RM4.27 million.
Steven also referred to several comments by Apandi defending Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najob Razak.
He it was not Apandi’s job to speak on behalf of any public official, adding that he would confuse his constitutional functions and duties.
He was referring to Apandi’s statement defending his decision not to charge Najib over allegations that some RM2.6 billion from 1MDB-linked entities had been transfered to his personal accounts, following the US Department of Justice’s move to freeze 1MDB assets worth US$1 billion in the country.
Najib had denied the money was from 1MDB, saying it was a donation from the Saudi royal family.
“In defending the Prime Minister against the DOJ’s allegations, the Attorney General has placed himself in an obvious and untenable position of conflict of interest.
“He is disqualified — and must therefore recuse himself immediately — from exercising his prosecutorial powers as Public Prosecutor under Article 145(3) should there be any further recommendation for prosecution over these allegations, because he would not be seen as a neutral decision–maker,” said Steven.