KUALA LUMPUR: A retired judge said it is the duty of Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali to ensure that the Malaysian Bar is independent.
Mohd Hishamudin Md Yunus, however, said it was tragic to witness today an A-G that was doing exactly the opposite to emasculate the Bar.
“It is the solemn and noble duty to protect and promote the interest and, importantly, the independence of the Bar,” said Hishamudin at a public forum yesterday on the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976.
He said the AG who is the guardian of public interest was suppose to ensure all branches of government respected the Federal Constitution and the rule of law.
“He should perform this constitutional role without fear or favour of the government of the day,” said the much respected Hishamudin, who last year retired as a Court of Appeal judge.
Quoting news reports from mainstream print media, he said the reasons given by Apandi to support the government’s move to amend the law were unacceptable.
“The explanation is a great disappointment,” he said, adding that the whole world was watching on what was happening in Malaysia.
The government is expected to table amendments to the LPA that would radically alter the elections of Bar Council members and reduce the voting rights of members.
It also seeks to impose punitive quorum requirements for general meetings and allow for two non-elected government representatives to sit in the Bar Council.
In a related development, Hishamudin also proposed amendments to the Constitution to allow for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint the AG on the recommendation of an independent commission.
He said the current constitutional scheme gave rise to the perception that the AG was beholden to the prime minister.
Now the king makes the appointment on the advice of the prime minister.
He said it should be law that the AG could not be summarily removed by the government, but should enjoy security of tenure like judges of the Federal Court.
Hishamudin said the AG should only be removed by a special tribunal on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity.
“I am saying all this because the current constitutional arrangement on the appointment and removal of AG placed him in a vulnerable position,” he added. . He said this was, of course, no excuse for the AG not to perform his role of upholding the Constitution and rule of law as expected by citizens.