KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 — Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) today has urged the government to review the separation of roles between the attorney general (AG) and the public prosecutor following the recent decision by the prosecution to discontinue the trial against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on 47 corruption charges.
In a statement, the anti-graft watchdog said that the current arrangement, where the same person holds both positions, gives rise to a “perceived conflict of interest”.
“The AG is appointed by the prime minister and is therefore accountable to the government. This could potentially influence the AG’s decision-making in criminal cases.
“For example, the AG may be reluctant to prosecute a high-profile case involving a government minister or other powerful figure, for fear of political repercussions. This would undermine the public’s confidence in the impartiality of the criminal justice system,” said TI-M president Muhammad Mohan.
Ti-Malaysia also said that the prosecution had given 11 reasons for making this application, but they were too technical for ordinary Malaysians to understand.
“The AG’s Chambers now have the responsibility to explain fully and frankly to all Malaysians why the prosecution took this decision instead of allowing the trial to continue its course until final judgment,” said Mohan.
“Unless this shocking decision is properly explained, the people’s trust in the independence of the AG’s Chambers could erode,” he added.
TI-M also urged the government to expedite all institutional reforms and show its commitment to fight corruption by arresting and prosecuting those who have embezzled public funds.
“Without taking drastic action against the corrupt, it will be difficult for Malaysia to make a turnaround in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) scores and global ranking.
“This reform will help to ensure that the criminal justice system is more independent and impartial and that those who break the law are brought to justice, regardless of their position or power,” said Mohan.
The CPI is a measure of public sector corruption published annually by Transparency International. Malaysia’s CPI score has been declining in recent years, and the country is currently ranked 62nd out of 180 countries.
Yesterday, the prosecution decided to discontinue and drop the Yayasan Akalbudi trial against Zahid — which resulted in the High Court granting a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on Zahid for all 47 charges he faced.