The concept of justice must be grounded on the basic principles of equality, fairness, and rule of law. Has the Attorney General upheld these principles? Martin Jalleh looks at his record.
Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail treated the nation to a farcical discourse which he delivered to members of the Judiciary and the Bar on 16 January 2010. It was entitled “Opening of the Legal Year 2010” and in it he declared:
“(I)t cannot be over emphasized that the concept of justice is grounded on the basic principles of equality, fairness, and rule of law. The AGC (AG’s Chambers) is committed to promoting the rule of law and ensuring justice be given to all people whatever their race, religion or class.
“AGC in carrying out its duties is well aware of the maxim ‘justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done’, and hence the explanations issued by AGC from time to time on cases handled by it so that the public would not have misconceptions of biasness.”
The AG’s words turned into flawless hypocrisy when juxtaposed with an open letter (30 November 2010) of Robert Phang, a respected MACC panel advisor, describing the public perception of Gani: “There is also public scepticism over the conduct of the AG, in the exercise of his prosecutorial powers. His reluctance to act in certain cases, while very vociferous in others, has given rise to allegations of selective prosecution bordering on persecution.”
Here are some examples.
Gani prevents MACC-Bala meeting
In June 2010, the MACC’s credibility took another dent when it made a U-turn at the last minute on plans to meet private investigator, P Balasubramaniam, in London (see story on MACC). Americk Sidhu, Bala’s lawyer, told the commission that “whatever advice the MACC may have received from the Attorney General’s chambers is highly suspect and devoid of any legal basis”.
Gani protected by government
On 8 October 2010, former KL CID chief Mat Zain Ibrahim, the investigating officer in Anwar’s assault case, revealed in an open letter to the new IGP Ismail Omar that he had new information on the ‘black-eye incident’, which implicated Gani Patail and former IGP Musa Hassan.
Lim Kit Siang raised the matter in Parliament. The government put on a big show. Najib told Nazri to find out from Gani. Hishammuddin poked his nose in between. It resulted in nothing! On 14 December 2010, Nazri said that there was no need for a relook at the ‘black-eye’ probe.
Gani ‘persecutes’ Rosli against MACC advice
In his press statement on 30 November, Robert Phang expressed his concern over the case of lawyer En Rosli Dahlan, who had written to him asking for MACC to withdraw the charge that it had preferred against him. Phang added that he was informed that “the MACC had recommended to AG that the MACC would like the case to be withdrawn. However, till today the AG has not responded”!
In his next press statement Phang wrote: “En Rosli is widely known to be the lawyer handling the MAS case and has alleged that he had been victimised by rogue elements in the government (my emphasis)…It is frightening to the citizens at large that the whole machinery of the AG’s office and the MACC can be used against one man. The government must dispel this perception of persecution against an innocent citizen.”
Gani’s inappropriate relationship
In 2010 Gani was also severely criticised for his alleged relationship with Shahidan Shafie, the proxy of former Malaysia Airlines chairperson Tajuddin Ramli, who is being investigated by the MACC.
This follows allegations that the AG had decided not to take action against Tajuddin despite recommendations made by the former director of the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department, Ramli Yusof, and the federal government’s decision to file civil action against Tajuddin.
Chamber of sex trysts
In August 2010, the AG’s Chambers created history when it was revealed that Farah Azlina Latif, a deputy public prosecutor (DPP) involved in Anwar’s Sodomy II trial was having a sex liaison with the prosecution’s star witness, Mohd Saiful Bukhar. Anwar’s lawyer Karpal Singh blasted the AG: “Never before in the history of the country or in the Commonwealth has a DPP had an affair with the star witness”.
A Malaysiakini reader P Dev Anand Pillai commented: “The floodgates will open for the judiciary to have sexual liaisons with the prosecution, defence or even the witnesses in the future.”
Martin Jalleh, a well-known political commentator, is regular contributor to Aliran Monthly.