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Call for greater accountability and transparency in the administration of justice, whether judicial or the Attorney-General as part of Pak Lah’s reform pledge of good governance
Media Conference Statement(2)
by Lim Kit Siang
Little progress has been made in the area of judicial accountability, with the revision of the Judges’ Code of Ethics undergoing not only years of inordinate delay but also being conducted in great secrecy, totally at variance with the spirit of openness, accountability and transparency which would involve judges, lawyers and lay persons in the formulation of the Code.
Recently, public concern about accountability and transparency in the administration of justice took another notch upwards over the handling of high-profile cases by the Attorney-General, whether in the conduct of cases or the exercise of his discretionary powers under the Constitution, which does not mean immunity from accountability or licence for arbitrariness.
The recent high-profile case in Sabah involving the fatal shooting of a youth, resulting in the arrest of 11 people including former Sabah Minister Datuk Conrad Mojuntin is a case in point.
Newspaper reports have raised many public interest questions on the exercise of the discretionary powers of the Attorney-General which are independent and separate from the facts of the case, which I do not propose to touch on, as I am not privy to the developments of the tragic events.
It is reported in the press that Sabah police investigations into the case under Section 302 of the penal code for murder, which carried the mandatory death sentence, had been completed and that the investigation papers had been submitted to the Attorney-General Tan Sri Ghani Patail last Friday. The police had been asked to resubmit the investigations to the Senior Federal Council (SFC) in Sabah, which was done on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the police had offered bail to the 11 detained in the investigations on the advice of the AG’s chambers.
Public interest questions that should be clarified are:
Firstly, why was the investigation papers directed to be re-submitted to the SFC and not to the Attorney-General who under the constitution would have to exercise his discretionary powers to decide on the question of prosecution of the case.
Secondly, was it proper and lawful for the Attorney-General to intervene during the process of police investigations, including “advising” on bail question, although the final decision on prosecution would finally have to be made by the Attorney-General.
Thirdly, why the secrecy in not disclosing details of the bail granted to the 11 who had been detained for investigations into the case.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman