ONE wonders what makes the lawsuit filed by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali against former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir and the government regarding the termination of his contract ‘so special’ that the quantum of settlement cannot be divulged to the public.
While it can be understood that the terms of the settlement of the lawsuit are classified as confidential under the Official Secrets Act 1972, at least such secrecy should not be extended to the quantum of the settlement.
After all, the money to settle the lawsuit belongs to taxpayers, hence, the Malaysian public has every right to know how much Putrajaya has agreed to pay Apandi as settlement or whether the government has made the right decision to pay him that sum of money.
Not only would this ensure that the settlement is done transparently, but it would also prevent ‘out of court settlement’ of civil lawsuits initiated by former civil servants against the government from becoming the norm.
Such concern stems from the fact that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said stated on Tuesday (Feb 14) that Apandi’s civil case against Dr Mahathir and Putrajaya had been settled out of court with the consent of the government without any admission of liability.
“During the settlement negotiations, the parties to this lawsuit, particularly the plaintiff (Apandi) represented by Messrs Shukor Baljit and Partners, and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), agreed that the terms of the settlement be kept confidential and not disclosed to the public,” she noted in a written reply posted on the Parliament’s website.
“In accordance with such consent, all communications in relation to settlement negotiations and terms the agreed settlement was classified as secret according to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88).”
Azalina said this in response to a question from M. Kulasegaran (PH-Ipoh Barat) who asked the Prime Minister to state the amount of compensation the government paid to Apandi when the government settled the suit.
Recall that on April 13 last year, the High Court here quashed the suit after the government agreed to settle the case without any admission of liability and with the terms of the settlement not to be disclosed.
Apandi had on Oct 13, 2020 filed the suit naming Dr Mahathir and the government respectively as the first and second defendants, seeking, among others, a declaration that the termination of his contract as AG by the former PM in 2018 was invalid.
A Federal Court Judge before being appointed AG in 2015, Apandi had sought special damages of RM2,233,599.36 (RM2.23 mil), general and exemplary damages, costs and other relief deemed fit by the court. – Feb 16, 2023