PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has made a wise decision to appoint Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh as the new Attorney-General (AG) to replace the outgoing Tan Sri Idris Harun.
The appointment of Terrirudin, who will assume the top post by leaving his present position as the Solicitor-General, is absolutely correct in all senses.
For me, Terrirudin is not only the right choice but also the most qualified candidate to become the new AG, and I will back up my argument with some facts that matter.
Terrirudin in person
I would reiterate that Terrirudin is the best candidate to replace Idrus as he is from within the AG Chambers (AGC) and his appointment would allow for a smooth transition.
Terrirudin is just 55, and moved to become the SG in March 2022. He had enough time to learn the ropes of handling the AGC. Besides, he has enough years in him to steer the AGC into becoming a world-class institution.
From what I have been hearing from people in the AGC, he gets along well with everyone in the chambers and is largely seen as a calming factor there.
He is said to command the respect of everyone there and is seen as being firm in dealing with them.
Moreover, he is also experienced and well connected with the courts, having served as the Chief Registrar. This is an important qualification, as a good rapport and relationship are required with the courts for the many cases to be decided.
Terrirudin is also neutral and objective, as he is not aligned with any political factions. This, I think, should pacify the various groups and the public.
Not to mention that his record is also clean, and demonstrates unwavering loyalty to the institution.
Appointment from within
I have always argued that the new AG must come from within the chambers. This is because he would then know the nuances and inner workings of the AGC. This includes being well versed in the numerous divisions in the AGC as well as the personnel.
For the record, there are many divisions within the AGC. They include advisory; civil, prosecution, drafting, appellate, trial, law revision and reform, international affairs, research, shariah and harmonisation of law and management.
In view of such numerous and distinct divisions within the AGC, no one can dispute the fact that Terrirudin will be an all-rounder, as he surely has hands-on experience and exposure not only to the realities but also to the management of all the divisions.
As the new AG, Terrirudin’s task is not only limited to handling civil or criminal cases but is also required and expected to be a good administrator, especially when AGC consists of thousands of employees.
Unlike an outside appointment, Terrirudin would not require time to understand and appreciate these inner workings.
He can’t be easily misled for lack of exposure, but instead would have hit the ground running immediately as he is already familiar not only with AGC’s officers but most importantly, the system and the work ethics and culture.
Keeping the unity intact
Appointing an outsider could have affected the morale in the AGC, especially if an unpopular candidate had been named as the AG.
In the recent past, the appointment of outsiders and some clear political appointments have severely impacted the reputation and morale of AGC.
Many within the AGC felt that such appointments were sidelining them. This had also seen the departure of many wise brains from the AGC.
Terrirudin, long seen as a rising star within the AGC, can correct this situation. Under him, the team spirit and unity of the AGC will be further enhanced, and this will only do well for the reputation of this institution.
There are already rumblings from certain quarters about the performance of the AGC, especially in certain high-profile cases.
The AGC clearly needs a firm hand to steady its ship and regain its reputation. Who better than Terrirudin to achieve this?
Although he keeps a low profile, his capabilities are beyond doubt. He will be a firm AG who won’t allow himself to be pushed around.
This is another reason for going in for Terrirudin’s appointment. There are so many high-profile cases still ongoing in the courts. Some are on trial, while others are on appeal.
Furthermore, there are also so many interlocutory matters pending and numerous representations are also in need of consideration. There needs to be stability and continuity in the AGC for these cases to be completed successfully.
With Terrirudin serving as the new AG, we can expect no delays since he is already well-informed about the facts and status of these cases. The AGC’s operations will proceed seamlessly, ensuring the high spirits of the numerous chambers’ staff members remain unaffected.
An outside AG would have sought more time, which means more delays, which in turn translate to more public scrutiny and bad perception. – Sept 2, 2023
Ali Rahman Firdouse is a retired legal practitioner.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: Malay Mail