No place for BN-style interference in AGC

KUALA LUMPUR, February 11 – Solicitor-General III (SG-III) Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria has openly declared what a vast majority of Malaysians always knew, that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) receives direction and instruction from the government.

It should not be a surprising revelation from someone who has over 20 years of experience as a Deputy Public Prosecutor and was, before his redesignation as SG-III, the Deputy Head of the Prosecution Division (Operations) of the AGC.

He made this revelation in his defence of an email he wrote conveying the government’s directive that there should be no delays in the prosecution of corruption cases linked to the previous Barisan Nasional government.

“I wish to explain here that the AGC is part of the machinery of the Federal Government and being part of it, we receive direction and instruction from the Government.

“The AGC will always adhere to the Government’s directive and instruction so long as they are lawful and not against the Federal Constitution or any written law,” he said in a statement yesterday.

This typical mindset of a civil servant borne out of years of service to the previous BN government  should not be continued if Malaysia has indeed turned a corner in the administration of justice after a new government was sworn in last May.

Ramkarpal: AGC advises govt not other way around

Not surprisingly, Hanafiah’s comments has come under fire from DAP national legal bureau chairman Ramkarpal Singh.

The Bukit Gelugor MP released a statement chiding Hanafiah, saying that the AGC is independent of the government.

“Hanafiah has forgotten that the AG is independent and prosecutes according to evidence and never is directed, whether by the government or otherwise.

“It is elementary that the AGC advises the government and not the other way around. Hanafiah’s stand in this matter is serious,” Ramkarpal said.

He added that making such a defence only reflects Hanafiah’s own ignorance of the fact that the AGC is meant to be free from government instructions.

“This is a disgraceful error on Hanafiah’s part. He should resign if he doesn’t understand this, if not removed.

“We need independent people on the job. Not those who receive instructions from the government,” Ramkarpal said.

Email from AGC goes viral

The issue came to a boil after an email from Hanafiah to Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPP) handling cases related to SRC International Sdn Bhd, 1Malaysia Development Berhad and other graft cases was leaked to the public.

In the email, Hanafiah instructed DPPs not to postpone several high-profile corruption cases, based on the directive from the Pakatan Harapan government.

As a result, several quarters have now accused the AGC of being unfair towards the previous BN administration and being under the thumb of the new government.

In the wake of his instructions being made known via the contents of the email having gone viral, Hanafiah has turned his guns on the source of the leak.

He questioned how the circular had been shared, stressing that it was an internal matter within the AGC. He did not state however, if there will be an internal inquiry on the part of the AGC to find out how the email was leaked.

Hanafiah withdrew Lim Guan Eng’s “bungalow” case

Hanafiah had previously been in the news last September when he took full responsibility in withdrawing the corruption charges against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and a businesswoman, resulting in the two being freed of corruption charges over the sale of a bungalow house in Jalan Pinhorn, George Town.

At the time, he said that Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had recused himself in all deliberations regarding the case and so it was only left to him to make the decision.

Hanafiah was made SG-III in a restructuring of the Solicitor-General’s posts by Thomas last November.

He reports directly to the AG and is responsible for the Litigation Sector, which includes which includes the Prosecution Division, the Civil Division and the Appellate & Trial Division. This includes all State Prosecution Director Offices and State Civil Director Offices throughout Malaysia.

Hanafiah had also assisted prominent Umno lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah in the infamous Sodomy II trial against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in February 2015, in the final appeal by the PKR leader at the Federal Court. Anwar’s guilty verdict was upheld and he began a five-year jail term, until his release with a full pardon after Pakatan Harapan won the 14th General Election last May.