Need to establish independent public prosecutor's office, separate from AGC, says Bersih 2.0

Esther Landau

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a need to establish an independent public prosecutor’s office, separate from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), in order to clear public opinion over the role of Attorney General, said The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0).

In a statement issued today it said there was a lack of coordination between the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the AGC on the acquittal of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon’s corruption charges.

“While Bersih 2.0 welcomes the AGC Appellate and Trial Division head Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria’s clarifications that Attorney General Tommy Thomas had no hand in the decision as he had already recused himself in all deliberations regarding the case from the onset in applying an approach of “fresh eye“, it was troubling that there seemed to be a lack of coordination between the anti-graft body and the AGC.

“Public confidence in MACC as a truly independent body should also not be delayed any longer. This can be made by making the anti-corruption body a constitutional body with transparent and credible appointment of its members. This would ensure the anti-corruption body is free from external interference and does not become a tool of political persecution against political enemies.

“These are the demands that Bersih 2.0 has made since Bersih 4 rally in 2015. Despite these recommendations being included in the manifesto of Pakatan Harapan (PH), we have not seen any action taken by the new government thus far to implement these crucial institutional reform measures,” it said.

It also urges the government to start taking action to implement the recommendations without delay. It said these were the only ways for the government to convince the public that it has the political will and was committed to institutional reforms that it promised to the voters.

On June 30, 2016, Lim claimed trial to using his position as a public officer, namely, as the then Penang chief minister, to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng.

He was accused of doing so by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in the southwest district to a company.

He was charged with committing the offence on July 18, 2014.

In the second charge, Lim also claimed trial to using his position to obtain for himself a plot of land and a house from Phang for RM2.8 million, a price below the property’s then market value of RM4.27 million.

The offence was allegedly committed Oct 21, 2015. Phang was charged with abetting Lim in obtaining the bungalow at an undervalued cost at the same place and date.

On Tuesday, the Penang High Court cleared Lim of two charges following the AGC’s withdrawal of the charges.

The AGC also said its decision to withdraw the graft charges against Lim and Phang was not influenced by anyone. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd