Law minister Azalina infers the prosecution of Saiful and Muhyiddin was political

By definition, cabinet approval, or go ahead for any investigation, and prosecution is a political decision. The extent of cabinet control over the attorney general is a very scary revelation for Malaysia’s legal system.

Murray Hunter

In a written answer to a parliamentary question yesterday, Law Minister Azalina Othman, said the Cabinet never gave approval for then attorney general Tommy Thomas to write a letter to the ‘heirs’ of the defunct Sultanate of Sulu, regarding their claim. According to reports, Azalina claimed in a written parliamentary reply to a question;

“For Yang Berhormat’s information, the letter dated September 19, 2019 issued by Tan Sri Tommy Thomas (the attorney general at that time) to the Sulu group never received agreement from the Cabinet.’


“The action of the former attorney general in issuing the letter containing his own decision without the Cabinet’s approval goes against the principle of collective decision which is practised as enshrined in the Federal Constitution,”

If this is the practice of the current administration, this means the position of attorney general, and with it, public prosecutor, as they are one and the same person in Malaysia is controlled by the political executive, and cabinet, as Azalina espouses. This implies the current attorney general, Idrus Harun has not been acting at his own discretion, but has been seeking permission from the cabinet, before any prosecutions are made.

Idrus Harun as A-G. Independent or works subject to approval of the cabinet?

This also implies the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) also acts upon political decisions, as the MACC must receive permission to pursue any prosecutions.

If this is the case, cabinet over the last 4 months has been approving all of the attorney general’s legal papers, correspondence, and decisions to prosecute individuals. Therefore, the arrests, and prosecutions of Wan Saiful Wan Jan and Muhyiddin Yassin, were political, rather than legal decisions.

This is abhorrent. A legal system under the control of cabinet, which is made up of politicians, who decide who and who not to investigate and prosecute. This is full of conflicts of interest.

Section 3 of Article 145 of the Malaysian Constitution states: “(3) The Attorney General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence”.

What the law minister is advocating and accusing former attorney general Thomas of not seeking permission before he acted, is not the right of the cabinet to purview.

The Law Minster now has two very pertinent questions to answer;

Did cabinet aprove the arrest and prosecution of Wan Saiful Wan Jan, and Muhyiddin Yassin?

Why does this administration have the right to breach Article 145 of the Malaysian Constitution?