GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been urged to disclose the current status of the position Attorney-General-on-leave Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.
Lawyer and Bukit Gelugor member of parliament Ramkarpal Singh said it has been more than three weeks since the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government captured Putrajaya, and various ministerial positions had been filled since.
Yet, Ramkarpal said, the status of one of the most important positions in the country, that of the AG, was still uncertain with Apandi being asked to go on leave, having clearly fallen out of favour with the current administration.
He said the AG was perhaps the most important of positions in government after the Prime Minister as he was the chief legal adviser of the government.
“No doubt, the Solicitor-General (SG) can assume the role of the AG in his absence, but such a practice ought not to be encouraged, and should only be temporary in nature as the AG clearly has a distinct role to play on his own.
“Many have called upon Apandi to resign voluntarily (myself included) as he might find himself in conflict with the current investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue, having spearheaded investigations into the same in the past and having cleared former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of any wrongdoing in relation thereto.
“Apandi’s failure to resign despite the mounting pressure for him to do so is indicative of what a liability he has become, and as such, it is necessary to remove him so as to ensure the smooth running of the new administration with an AG who can actively advise the government on crucial matters engulfing the nation now, including but not limited to 1MDB.
“In the circumstances, I urge the Prime Minister to urgently disclose the current status of the position of the AG and whether Apandi’s contract will be terminated in the near future to pave the way for the appointment of a new AG,” he said in a media statement today.
Ramkarpal said he believed that was the only course available for the removal of Apandi as AG in light of his blatant refusal to resign.
“Otherwise, we will be in a situation without an active AG, which is detrimental to the smooth administration of the country,” he said.
Apandi, he said, should be removed first before Dr Mahathir was able to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the appointment of a new AG pursuant to Article 145(1) of the Federal Constitution.
Ramkarpal said the appointment of a new AG, without first terminating Apandi’s contract, would be ill-advised as this may lead to a challenge of the said new AG’s appointment on the ground that the new appointment was null and void as there already was an acting AG at the time of his appointment.
“Apandi must go and his contract should be terminated forthwith for the said purpose.
“Once this is done, the new AG will be in a position to consider if Apandi is a material witness into the 1MDB investigations, and if so, if he should be summoned to provide a statement to assist the investigations.
“The Prime Minister should not wait a day longer to act in this regard as Apandi’s continued presence as the AG of Malaysia is a grave impediment to his reforms,” he stressed.
On May 15, Apandi began his 30-day unrecorded leave. He maintained, however, that he was still the AG serving at the pleasure of the King.
It came a day after Dr Mahathir said that Apandi had been asked to go on leave, and that the SG, Datuk Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek, would stand in for him with immediate effect.