Govt needs Opposition support to separate AG’s roles

By P PREM KUMAR & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By BERNAMA

The government needs the Opposition’s support to separate the duties and power of the attorney general (AG) and public prosecutor as it does not command a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (picture) said the separation needs constitutional amendment that can only be implemented if Pakatan Harapan receives the support of at least 148 MPs in the august house.

“To separate the duties and office of the AG and the public prosecutor, we need to amend the Federal Constitution. There can be no other way.

“At this time, the Pakatan Harapan government does not control two thirds of the Dewan Rakyat and that is our constraint.

“If we have a guarantee from the other side (Opposition) that they will support us to amend the Constitution for the better, we are committed to make the change,” Mohamed Hanipa told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Pakatan Harapan is also the minority in the Dewan Negara, which is still mostly controlled by members appointed by the previous government before the 14th General Election.

A four-party ruling coalition has 117 representatives in the Dewan Rakyat, plus nine MPs from Pakatan Harapan-friendly Parti Warisan Sabah and four independent MPs.

The deputy minister was responding to MP Hassan Abdul Karim (Pakatan Harapan-Pasir Gudang), who questioned the government’s commitment to ensuring the separation of the duties and offices, as stated in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.

MP Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) subsequently asked a supplementary question whether the government has plans to strengthen the Judicial Appointments Commission Act, allowing it full power on the hiring and firing of judges, where the prime minister and the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong cannot veto its decision.

Mohamed Hanipa explained that this needs a constitutional amendment too and urged Khairy to advise his Barisan Nasional (BN) colleagues to support the government on matters involving the nation’s betterment.

“We have had a bad experience with the (repeal) of the Fake News Act. We successfully passed it in the Dewan Rakyat and gave our arguments why it must be abolished. Thank God that even the Opposition supported it
in the Dewan Rakyat.

“But in the Dewan Negara, we faced a problem when BN used their majority in the Upper House to frustrate our Bill and we need one year before we can bring it back to Parliament.

“If honourable Rembau (Khairy) can help convince his peers to support Pakatan Harapan when we propose something good, we can accomplish this faster than expected,” he said.