Salleh Said Keruak
We would expect someone like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has been Prime Minister for 22 years plus those other Members of Parliament who are technically ‘lawmakers’ to be proficient about the law and would know the function, role and responsibilities of an Attorney General.
The Attorney General is chief legal adviser to the government and amongst his or her functions would be to oversee the Law Officers’ departments. The Attorney General advises the government, individual government departments, and individual government ministers on all legal matters. The Attorney General also has to answer questions in Parliament and file appeals against unduly lenient sentences and points of law in the Court of Appeal.
Dr Mahathir said, “In Malaysia the Attorney General decides if a law has been broken or not. That decision is in fact a judgement. The A.G. is both a judge and a prosecutor. This in itself is an injustice.”
This statement is most misleading. Dr Mahathir makes it sound like the Attorney General has done something wrong or has overstepped his boundary whereas what he did was exactly what his job demands that he does.
The police or any other agency such as the MACC merely has power to investigate if they think a crime may have been committed. They then submit the investigation report to the Attorney General, who then decides whether a crime has been committed and if so whether there is enough evidence for the case to be brought to court and/or for a conviction to be obtained.
This has always been the case since 1243 when the post was first created in England and in 1461 when the Attorney General took on the political role of adviser to the government and 1673 when he became the adviser to the prosecution department.
Basically, Malaysia practices British law and the post of Attorney General in Malaysia is the same as that in England. The Attorney General looks through the merits of each case and after scrutinising the investigation report and the evidence he would decide whether there is a case and whether it needs to be brought to court.
They should not try to make it appear like this is something out of the ordinary when this is precisely how things are done and have been done since the beginning. And this is also precisely how things were done during Dr Mahathir’s watch as Prime Minister as well -- no more and no less.