http://dapmalaysia.org Forward Feedback
The Attorney-General should be consistent and review all cases where the DPP socialises with judges whether through sporting events like badminton or fraternises by having drinks to prevent the perception of tainted justice which undermines public confidence in the administration of justice
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP express surprise at the sudden rigorous and exact standards of propriety and ethical conduct adopted by Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail when he explained that he had to change the prosecution team in the murder trial of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu because deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Salehuddin Saidin, who was leading the prosecution team, had been seen playing badminton with trial judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin. After all, the Attorney-General Chambers both before and now have never shown a keen interest in ethical behaviour, particularly refusing to reprimand the unethical conduct involving a former Chief Justice caught holidaying overseas with a leading defamation lawyer whose cases he normally hears.
Such observance have never been the hallmark of previous Attorney-Generals including Tan Sri Abdul Gani. Compliance with standards of propriety and ethical conduct is to be encouraged and favourably welcomed were it not for strong suspicions that the Attorney-General's sudden enthusiasm for such appropriate behaviour is inspired not by concerns of appearance for justice but motivated by political considerations.
The public have been disturbed that this sensational murder trial may never be heard before the coming general elections to prevent the revelation of sensitive information due to the close association between one of the murder accused, Abdul Razak Baginda, who is closely associated with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Gani claimed he only knew about the badminton playing matter last Thursday, and given the time constraint of only three days for a new DPP Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah to take over, he had no choice but to request for adequate time to prepare the case. Gani said he decided to withdraw Salehuddin from leading the prosecution team to avoid atttracting negative perception of the integrity of the Attorney-General's Chambers and the court and the fair conduct of the trial.
All this is fine but more questions are raised as to why Tun Abdul Majid was not informed by Gani to take over on Friday. Tun Majid told the High Court that he only received instructions on Sunday evening to take over due to "unforeseen circumstances" which he could not explain to the court. Such failure to explain to the court and by only revealing the real reason now appears to be an after-thought that is both disrespectful and unfair to all parties involved, including the judge, family of the murder victim and counsels.
DAP hopes that Tan Sri Abdul Gani's new found favour for propriety and ethical behaviour is not limited only to the Altantunya muder trial but extends and includes all cases involving DPPs. The Attorney-General should be consistent and review all cases where the DPP socialises with judges whether through sporting events like badminton or fraternises by having drinks to prevent the perception of tainted justice which undermines public confidence in the judiciary
If the Attorney-General is serious about preventing the whole administration of justice system to be called into question by the mere allegation of perceived prejudice and ensure that the right of the affected parties to a fair trial is upheld, then he must consistently apply the same standards of propriety rigorously without fear or favour on all cases. Any failure to extend this to other cases would only demonstrate a selectivity and double-standards that may erode and even shatter public confidence in the administration of justice.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP