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KUALA LUMPUR: The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), referring to the Penang Chief Minister’s corruption case, reminded Attorney-General (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali that his own personal integrity and the integrity of the whole office of the Attorney- General Chambers (AGC) was being questioned by many observers.

Ideas Chief Executive Officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan noted, in a statement, that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) appears to have done its job in investigating Lim Guan Eng’s case without fear or favour.

“This is a high profile case and the reputation of the MACC is at stake,” he cautioned. “They are expected to have conducted their investigation with integrity and honesty.”

Still, the people have not forgotten that Apandi Ali’s appointment as AG was rushed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak at the height of the investigations on him (Najib), said Wan Saiful in the statement.

“Soon after that, the Malaysian Bar Council accused Apandi Ali of going beyond his powers, not just to exonerate Najib, but also to instruct the MACC to close all investigations on him.”

Apandi Ali has a mountain to climb to prove his personal integrity and the trustworthiness of his office, argued Wan Saiful. “No matter how honest he is, there will still be a significant portion of the population who will accuse him of being a puppet of the Najib administration.”

“The decision to arrest the Penang Chief Minister would be seen as part of a political conspiracy.”

He noted that Lim was arrested by MACC officers on Wednesday following instructions from the AG himself.

At the moment, continued Wan Saiful, the level of trust in the institution of the AG remains very low. “Lim’s arrest will only bring that trust even lower if nothing is done to remedy the situation.”

“This is regardless of whether or not this prosecution was the correct course of action.”

As a solution, Wan Saiful reiterated that Apandi Ali should immediately initiate a reform of the process. “He can take a very important step to bring back trust in the institution of the AG and on himself.”

The Ideas Chief urged that Apandi Ali immediately convene a Task Force to look at reforming the way the AG works. “The most important thing to do right now was to separate the role of AG as chief legal adviser to the government from the office of the Public Prosecutor.”

Apandi Ali’s decisions are being seen as selective prosecution because he decided to exonerate and stop the investigations against the person who gave him his current job, he stressed. “Yet, he has gone ahead to prosecute Najib’s political opponent with much expediency.”

“This creates the impression of a serious conflict of interest.”

Briefly, the country needs two different individuals to be Attorney-General and Public Prosecutor. “Even if Apandi Ali was the most honest person on earth, the public will still doubt his decisions because of the circumstances,” said Wan Saiful. “It’s in the interest of the nation, and Apandi Ali, to immediately start the reform process to free up prosecutorial decisions from perceived political influence.”

The Ideas Chief sees the Lim Guan Eng case as an opportunity to fix a critical weakness in the institutional system. “Apandi Ali has a chance to create a very positive legacy while in office.”

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