LAW and institutional reform minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has lambasted Perikatan Nasional (PN) for not separating the powers of the Attorney-General (AG) and public prosecutor when they were in power.
Azalina was responding to opposition leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin’s claim that the current administration was practising selective prosecution against opposition leaders, including when the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) pressed criminal charges against PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Azalina, who is also the Pengerang MP, condemned the opposition of inaction when PN was part of the federal government for more than two years, first under Muhyiddin, and then under Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
“It is unfair for the opposition to cry selective prosecution when PN leaders are charged in court,” she said during her winding-up speech of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) mid-term review in Parliament today (Sept 18).
“This is why the Madani government is committed to separating the powers of the AG and public prosecutor.
“I want to ask you, when you were in power, why didn’t you separate the powers of the attorney-general (and prosecutor)? When your leaders get charged, you say they are victims of selective prosecution. But when the same happens to the other side, (you say) ‘padan muka’ (serves you right).
“What is this? At least on our side, we are committed to walk the talk (in separating the powers), unlike those on the other side who didn’t even discuss the idea.
Hamzah, who is also the Larut MP, had also expressed concerns over the AG’s decision to grant Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) in his Yayasan Akalbudi corruption case.
Azalina pointed out that apart from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the AG is the only individual vested with a degree of discretion or authority on the matter as stipulated in Article 145 of the Federal Constitution.
Article 145(3) states that the AG may institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a shariah court, a native court or a court martial.
“This means that every attorney-general has the power to prosecute (individuals) and to release (them),” the Pengerang UMNO division chief said.
“That is why the government is committed to separating the roles of AG and public prosecutor, and we have agreed in principle on that matter.” – Sept 18, 2023
Main pic credit: Bernama