Press Statement
The Attorney-General, Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal must step down

24 May 2018

Lawyers for Liberty calls upon Apandi Ali, Md Raus Sharif, and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin to step down immediately from their respective roles as Attorney-General, Chief Justice, and President of the Court of Appeal.

It is obvious that their current positions are untenable, with the Attorney-General as a political appointee serving at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the recommendation of the Prime Minister, while the re-appointments of Raus and Zulkefli were flagrantly unconstitutional. Their continued insistence in staying in their positions only can impede the important reforms planned by the Pakatan Harapan government.

The scandalous circumstances surrounding Apandi’s appointment to become Attorney-General in the wake of his predecessor Abdul Gani Patail’s removal are shocking as allegedly Gani was about to file 1MDB-related criminal charges against then-Prime Minster Najib Razak.

After being appointed Attorney-General, Apandi chose to clear Najib of all wrongdoing concerning 1MDB despite all evidence proving otherwise. Apandi clearly does not command the confidence of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has directed him to go on leave.

The re-appointments of Raus and Zulkefli to their respective posts are equally shrouded in controversy, having been ushered in through the back door as ‘additional judges’ after they reached their mandatory retirement age. Their tenures are blatantly unconstitutional as they are serving beyond their age limit as the Federal Constitution stipulates a retirement age of 66 years and 6 months for judges. Their continued insistence in remaining in their roles threatens to trigger a constitutional crisis and pit the new government against the judiciary.

It further needs to be reminded that the re-appointments of Raus and Zulkefli are the subject of constitutional challenges by the Malaysian Bar and the Advocates Association of Sarawak, and have further been roundly criticised by civil society and the aforesaid legal bodies and the Sabah Law Society. In addition, Pakatan Harapan leaders have previously submitted a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in August 2017 seeking his intervention to stop their unconstitutional re-appointments.

It is clear that these Najib-era appointments are not fit to stay in office, and the longer they choose to remain, the worse the situation will become. If they must be forced out by legal means, it will be a messy and drawn-out affair, and one that will engulf their once-respected offices and drag them, and the country through a crisis.

We urge you to respect the wishes of the Malaysian voters who have clearly rejected the scandal-plagued Najib administration, of which you were a part of.  Do the right thing by resigning from your respective posts of Attorney-General, Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal –  and let Malaysia move forward in this new era of democratic change and reform.

Released By:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty