Nazri backs call for non-prosecuting AG

But he says the government has put constitutional amendments on hold.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz today expressed support for a call to separate the functions of the Attorney-General and the Public Prosecutor in different individuals, but denied that the government interfered in the AG’s work.

“We can use the United Kingdom as a reference,” he said. “However, this is my personal opinion.”

In Britain, the Attorney General is the government’s chief legal adviser. Prosecution powers are in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Yesterday, the Bar Council called on the government to amend the constitution in order to distinguish the AG from the Public Prosecutor.

Its president, Lim Chee Wen, said that vesting the same person with both functions could give rise to “selective prosecution” due to intervention by the executive arm of government.

Lawyers for Liberty made a similar call, saying the AG should be answerable to Parliament.

Nazri, who sits on the Umno supreme council, dismissed the widely held notion that the government was interfering in the AG’s work.

“During my tenure as law minister, the government never interfered in the AG’s independence,” he said.

Nazri also said the government had put on hold any tabling of laws that would require revising the Federal Constitution. This would be necessary to fulfil the Bar Council’s call.

“It’s because we do not have the two-thirds majority needed to make the amendment and we do not trust the opposition lawmakers will give us their support,” he said.

As for making the AG answerable to Parliament, Nazri said it was not possible under the Malaysian system of government.

“In our parliament, only an elected MP can sit in the Dewan Rakyat.”