Call on Mahathir to clear the air as to whether it was customary practice for the Conference of Rulers to “advise” on the appointment of the Attorney-General

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Datuk Seri Ainum Mohd Saaid should not go on leave as Attorney-General prior to premature retirement until there has been a full, final and satisfactory solution to the ballooning Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) examination scandal, as she is also Chairman of the Legal Profession Qualifying Board by virtue of her position as Attorney-General.

If Ainum goes on leave prior to premature retirement at the end of the year, there would be an immediate vacancy in the head of the Qualifying Board, which would be a new addition to the multi-layered scandal of the CLP examination, further crippling the operations of the Board in ensuring justice for all the victims of the CLP examination scandal and due punishment to the various quarters who had been responsible for the different dimentsions of the CLP examination scandal.

The previous Monday on 19th November 2001, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim announced that Ainum had just submitted to him her letter of resignation as Attorney-General with effect at the end of the year and Datuk Abdul  Gani Patail’s appointment to take over as Attorney-General on January 1 next year and that Gani would assume the duties of the A-G once Ainum goes on leave “after clearing a few matters”.

The  Speaker of Parliament, Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail has conceded and revealed on Monday, in his letter to DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok when rejecting her motion raising the issue of the constitutionality and propriety  of  Gani’s appointment, that Gani’s appointment  has not yet been made  by the Yang di Pertuan Agong and that the Prime Minister had not yet advised the King on the matter.

Under these circumstances,  Gani should not be Acting Attorney-General when Ainum goes on leave.

This is because there is the Solicitor-General,  Datuk Heliliah Mohd Yusof who should be the Acting Attorney-General, which is provided by Section 376(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which reads:

“376(2).  The Solicitor-General shall have all powers of a Deputy Public Prosecutor and shall act as Public Prosecutor in case of the absence or inability to act of the Attorney-General.”

The appointment of Gani who is No. 3 in the A.G’s chambers as head of the Prosecution Division as Acting Attorney-General, overriding the Solicitor-General who is No. 2 in the department, may be open to a legal challenge as to the constitutionality of the appointment.

Rais said that Ainum  would go  on leave prior to retirement as Attorney-General at the end of the year  “after clearing a few matters”.

One of such “few matters” is clearly the CLP examination scandal, which has become an even bigger scandal after the Legal Profession Qualifying Board has opened an even bigger “can of worms” with its indecisive and irresponsible decisions  on the CLP examination scandal in the past three weeks. The least Ainum should do as Attorney-General before she leaves office is to ensure that full justice is done in the CLP examination scandal - or her tenure as Attorney-General will forever be tarred by this scandal.

Rais’ precipitate haste to announce the appointment of Gani as the new Attorney-General even before Ainum’s resignation had taken effect or had gone on leave prior to premature retirement has also created a crisis on the constitutionality and propriety of Gani’s double appointments - as the new Attorney General from 1.1.2002 and as Acting Attorney-General between Ainum’s going on leave and the expiry of her term of office at the end of the year.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should clarify the constitutional muddle created by Rais, and explain:


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman