KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 21): The Malaysian Bar is perturbed by the Attorney General Chambers' (AGC) purported decision to withdraw its appeal in former Cabinet minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor's corruption case.
Its president AG Kalidas said the decision to withdraw the appeal at the Federal Court was made despite the fact that the Court of Appeal's decision to acquit him was not unanimous.
In December last year, the High Court convicted Tengku Adnan of accepting a RM2 million bribe during his capacity as the federal territories minister. The Court of Appeal subsequently quashed the conviction in a 2-1 majority decision, and the prosecution filed an appeal at the Federal Court against the acquittal four months ago.
Kalidas, in a statement, pointed out that Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun is the principal legal adviser to the government and is also the country's public prosecutor.
"The power granted by the Federal Constitution to institute any proceedings for an offence is exercisable at his discretion.
"It is our view that the reasons behind withdrawing an appeal in such a high-profile case must be revealed to demonstrate accountability to the rakyat. Tengku Adnan currently serves as the member of parliament for Putrajaya — a position where he is elected to represent the interests of members of his constituents.
"Surely as a matter of good governance, questions regarding the integrity of such a public figure must be answered in a transparent manner, and not be left ignored. At the time of writing, the AGC has yet to provide any statement for its decision," the Bar president said.
Kalidas said it is axiomatic that the attorney general must answer for the exercise of the constitutional power that he holds and the discretion to discontinue prosecutions, because these powers are exercised on behalf of the rakyat for the rakyat.
"The wide-ranging discretionary powers held by the attorney general in his capacity as the public prosecutor must be weighed comprehensively against the rule of law and the administration of justice. Any suggestion that a public figure is able to use his/her influence to buy himself/herself out of accountability must be avoided at all costs," he said.
Stressing that the position of the AGC as a bastion of justice and a guardian of public interest must be fiercely guarded, Kalidas said the attorney general must give a detailed explanation behind the withdrawal of the appeal.
Tengku Adnan, 70, who is also UMNO treasurer, was found guilty by High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan of accepting a RM2 million bribe from Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd's managing director Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong, and sentenced to 12 months' jail and fined RM2 million.
At the Court of Appeal, the conviction was overturned by Justice Datuk Suraya Othman and Justice Datuk Ahmad Nasfy Yasin, while Justice Datuk Abu Bakar Jais upheld the conviction and sentence.
The Edge on Nov 17 reported the sudden decision of the AGC to withdraw its appeal at the Federal Court against the Court of Appeal's split decision despite filing a notice of appeal on July 16.
Several lawmakers and lawyers have also questioned the move, pointing out that the appeals court's decision was not unanimous.
Idrus and Tengku Adnan's lawyer Datuk Tan Hock Chuan have been contacted on the matter by The Edge but have yet to respond.
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