Mahathir should make a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday clarifying whether Article 145(1) of the Constitution had been complied with in the appointment of Gani Patail as the new Attorney-General and if so, when was the Prime Minister’s advice given and the appointment made by the Yang di Pertuan Agong

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Friday): Attorney-General-designate Datuk Abdul Gani Patail yesterday declined to comment on my criticism that his appointment has plunged the country into a new crisis of confidence in the system of justice in Malaysia. He told the press that yesterday was a public holiday for the whole nation to mourn and  show the last respects to the Yang di Pertuan Agong, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah and he would  choose another appropriate time to respond to my criticism.

Gani was right that the public holiday yesterday for the whole nation to mourn  the passing of the 11th Yang di Pertuan Agong was not appropriate to pursue the controversy over the propriety, wisdom and constitutionality of his appointment as the new Attorney-General from January 1 next year.

However, the overwhelming constitutional and national importance of this issue would not permit Gani to procrastinate a single moment  in giving a satisfactory accounting on various burning issues stemming from his appointment, in particular the need for him to clear himself of two serious allegations of obstruction of justice -  threatening Anwar Ibrahim’s former tennis partner Datuk S.  Nallakaruppan to fabricate evidence against Anwar and shielding the  Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz from prosecution on five charges of corruption - as well as his commitment  to bring about a new era of public confidence in the system and cause of justice in Malaysia after the dark judicial and legal age of recent past.

It is not only Gani who must give a full and proper accounting  as  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad also owes the nation and the world a proper explanation of the appointment of Gani as the new Attorney-General.

DAP calls on Mahathir  to make a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday to clarify whether Article 145(1) of the Constitution had been complied with in the appointment of Gani Patail as the new Attorney-General and if so, when was the Prime Minister’s advice given and the appointment made by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.

Mahathir should also agree to allow for a full parliamentary debate on his Ministerial statement to immediately follow suit so that nation-wide concerns about Gani’s appointment as the new Attorney-General could be ventilated in Parliament and a proper response given by the government.

Article 145(1) of the Federal Constitution which provides for the appointment of the Attorney-General reads:

“145(1).  The Yang di Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal  Court to be the Attorney-General for the Federation”.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim announced on Monday after  Datuk Seri Ainum Mohd Saaid had met him at his Putrajaya office for about 35 minutes and brought her letter of resignation that Gani would be  appointed  the new  Attorney-General to take over  from Ainum  on January 1 and that Gani would assume the duties of the A-G once Ainum goes on leave “after clearing a few matters”.

It does not appear from the chronology of events on Monday that Rais was aware of Article 145(1) of the Constitution on the appointment of the Attorney-General  and the need for this constitutional provision to be  complied with, as the various steps that must be taken after Ainum had submitted her resignation to Rais in their meeting on Monday should include at least six  other separate steps:

It is just unthinkable that all these six steps, not to mention others, could be completed and complied with  in a matter of minutes between Rais’ receiving Ainum’s letter of resignation and his press conference announcing Gani’s appointment as the new Attorney-General.

If Article  145(1) of the Constitution had not been complied with, then Gani’s appointment as the new Attorney-General  is not valid and constitutional - and the Prime Minister should undertake an open, transparent  and consultative process based on criteria which could be  made public in order to ensure confidence in the administration of justice in the country.

In his end-of-the-year Bernama interview last December, Mahathir was asked one question on  the judiciary, and the question-and-answer was given in the following  interview transcript:

"Q: In the New Year, we will have a new Attorney-General and a new Chief Justice. Do you hope that with these two appointments, the judiciary can restore public confidence as it has admitted itself that it has lost public confidence, and that there is acrimony between the judges and lawyers?

"A: Yes, I think so because people must give some leeway. These are human beings and they have their weakness. They may be in charge but they are not angels. They are not people who are perfect.

"So, they have their problems. We need to have some flexibility in our thinking on the performance of our people.

"I have worked with these people who are very good and some who are very bad, but I think if you know how all these people can deliver."

Mahathir should tell Parliament whether Gani belongs to the “angels” and in particular, whether he is in the category of  the “very good” or “very bad” who could still “deliver” as far as the government is concerned.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman