Attorney general must explain withdrawal of Tengku Adnan’s appeal in detail

File photo: Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor Facebook

The Malaysian Bar refers to the recent news that the Attorney General’s Chambers has reportedly withdrawn its appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to acquit former Federal Territories minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in a RM2m corruption case.

In December 2020, the Kuala Lumpur High Court convicted Tengku Adnan of accepting a RM2m bribe during his capacity as the Federal Territories minister.

The Court of Appeal then quashed the conviction in a 2-1 majority decision, and the prosecution had filed an appeal to the Federal Court against the acquittal in July 2021.

We are therefore perturbed by the Attorney General’s Chambers’ purported decision to withdraw the appeal, taking into consideration that the Court of Appeal’s decision was not unanimous.

The attorney general is the principal legal adviser to the government and also public prosecutor. The power granted by the Federal Constitution to institute any proceedings for an offence is exercisable at his discretion.

It is our view that the reasons behind withdrawing an appeal in such a high-profile case must be revealed to demonstrate accountability to the rakyat.

Tengku Adnan currently serves as the MP for Putrajaya – a position where he is elected to represent the interests of members of his constituency.

Surely, as a matter of good governance, questions regarding the integrity of such a public figure must be answered in a transparent manner, and not left ignored.

At the time of writing, the Attorney General’s Chambers has yet to provide any statement for its decision.

It is axiomatic that the attorney general must answer for the exercise of the constitutional power he holds and the discretion to discontinue prosecutions, because these powers are exercised on behalf of the rakyat and for the rakyat.

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The wide-ranging discretionary powers held by the attorney general in his capacity as the Public Prosecutor must be weighed comprehensively against the rule of law and the administration of justice.

Any suggestion that a public figure is able to use his/her influence to buy himself/herself out of accountability must be avoided at all costs.

The position of the Attorney General’s Chambers as a bastion of justice and a guardian of public interest must be fiercely guarded. The Malaysian Bar therefore emphasises the need for the attorney general to give a detailed explanation behind the withdrawal of the appeal.

AG Kalidas is president of the Malaysian Bar

This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.

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