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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Dismissal of the Attorney General – negotiating the Constitutional minefield




The dismissal of the Attorney General by the Prime Minister recently raises serious Constitutional issues affecting the legality and hence, validity, of the dismissal.

Not much detail is known publicly on how the dismissal was orchestrated and effected.

However, from various reports, we know that on the 28th July 2015, the Attorney General was relieved of his office with effect from the 27th July 2015. The Attorney General reportedly said that he did not know of the dismissal until he was informed of it on the 28th. He refused further comment and has since then remained silent.

Let us now visit the relevant Constitutional provisions affecting the office of the Attorney General.


Who appoints the Attorney General?

Article 145 (1) provides that the King shall appoint the Attorney General. In appointing him, the King acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. In this respect the King does not have any discretion but to follow the advice of the Prime Minister.

Upon his appointment, the Attorney General holds office “during the pleasure of” the King. This is provided by article 145 (5).

During the pleasure of the King – the meaning

Holding office during the pleasure of the Crown is a Common Law rule. It is the prerogative of the Crown where all servants of the Crown will hold office during the pleasure of the Crown. They can therefore be dismissed at will by the Crown. This is otherwise known as “at pleasure doctrine”.

Upon the advent of the British colonialism, this concept found its way into the Constitution of many Commonwealth countries. In India, for example, members of certain services, including the Governors and the Attorney General, hold office during the pleasure of the President.
Although the doctrine  sounds as if the King or President, as the case may be, holds an absolute power to hire and fire, the Constitutional make up does not, in reality, afford the King or the President such absolute power.

In India, for example, article 74 of the Constitution provides that the President, being only a nominal head, must always act in accordance with the “aid and advice” of the Council of Ministers.

In addition, case laws in India, such as B.P. Singhal v. Union of India & Another Writ Petition (Civil) No. 296 of 2004 established that the doctrine in its absolute unrestricted application does not exist in India. That decision put paid to the theory that the doctrine grants unfettered discretion to act arbitrarily or whimsically to the President.

It is further said that while the doctrine enables the removal of a servant at the pleasure of the appointing authority, even summarily and without notice, such removal can only be good for valid reason(s).

In Canada for example, in the case of Wells v. Newfoundland 1999 (177) DL (4th) 73(SCC), the Court held that the “at pleasure” doctrine is no longer justifiable in the context of modern employment concept.

In Malaysia, within the Constitutional framework of the country, it therefore remains to be seen whether Article 145 (1) would be interpreted by our Courts in a way that gives an unfettered discretion to the King to dismiss the Attorney General at will and without valid reason.

The argument that such unfettered discretion does not exist, considering the Constitution being modelled after the concept of democracy governed by rule of law, would however be difficult to resist. Any pronouncement that the discretion to dismiss the Attorney General based on “at pleasure” doctrine is unfettered and absolute would make a mockery of the doctrine of separation of powers and open the provision to abuse and misuse.


How does the King exercise his powers?

This is not the first time this question has arisen. During the Perak power snatch, questions also arose as to how the Sultan exercised his powers under the State Constitution.

We have to go back to the basic.

The King in Malaysia is a Constitutional Monarch. That means his powers, duties and functions are specified and defined by the Federal Constitution. He must therefore only acts in accordance with the Constitution.

There are generally two types of powers that the King is possessed of in the Constitution. Firstly, the discretionary powers. These are the powers that the King may exercise on his own and without the advice of any party. There are only three discretionary powers that the King has:

i)                The power to appoint the Prime Minister;



ii)                The power to withhold his consent to a request for the dissolution of parliament;



iii)             The power to requisition a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the    privileges, position, honours and dignities of their Royal highnesses, and any action at such a meeting.




Secondly, the non-discretionary powers. These are the powers that the King may only exercise on advice.


The power to dismiss the Attorney General

As stated above, the King appoints the Attorney General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Attorney General than holds office during his pleasure. The King may therefore dismiss the Attorney General (it is arguable that he can only do so for valid reasons).

The question than is – how does the King dismiss the Attorney General? Can he do it on his own and without advice? If not, whose advice must he follow?

The power to dismiss the Attorney General is not a discretionary power. The King must therefore act only on advice.

Article 40 (1) is relevant in this respect. Essentially, this article provides that, whenever the Constitution does not expressly provide otherwise, the King shall only act:

i)                 on the advice of the Cabinet; or,



ii)               on the advice of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet.



In taking the advice, the King is also entitled to any information concerning the government which is available to the Cabinet.

As there is no express provision that says otherwise in the Constitution, it is clear that the in dismissing the Attorney General, the King must only act on the advice of the cabinet or a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet.

Was there a cabinet meeting?

An important question than arises.

Did the cabinet meet and make a collective decision to dismiss the Attorney General? If so, when? Who attended? Were the reasons for the dismissal proffered, discussed and deliberated upon?

In other words, was there a meeting of the cabinet convened to discuss the dismissal of the Attorney General and a resolution for his dismissal duly passed at that meeting?

If there was no such meeting, the next question would be was there a Minister (the Prime Minister included) who was acting under the general authority of the cabinet who advised the King to dismiss the Attorney General? By convention, we can assume that the Prime Minister is the Minister who has the general authority of the cabinet.

However, is that really the case?

Even if the Prime Minister was the Minister who was under the general authority of the Cabinet to advise the King, two more important questions arise.

Firstly, can a Minister (or the Prime Minister) acting under a general authority of the cabinet act on his own and without consulting or at least, informing the cabinet, in advising the King to dismiss the Attorney General?

In this respect, it must be noted that under article 40 (1) cited above, the first option is for the cabinet to advise the King. For the cabinet to than properly and legally advise the King, the cabinet would have to meet and deliberate upon the matter and after addressing its collective mind to the issue at hand, the cabinet would then have to resolve to undertake such act.

Surely then, the Minister acting under the general authority of the cabinet would have to at least inform the cabinet of his or her decision to advise the King in any matter, more so, when the matter involves the removal from office of a person occupying a Constitutional position, such as the Attorney General.

Was the Prime Minister in a position of conflict?

Assuming the Prime Minister was acting under the general authority of the cabinet while advising the King to dismiss the Attorney General, another question arises.

This goes to the propriety of the advice and hence, its validity.

The question is – was the Prime Minister in a position of conflict to advise the King on the dismissal of the Attorney General?

It is common knowledge that the former Attorney General had established a special taskforce consisting of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency; the police and the Bank Negara to investigate into allegations of wrongdoings in 1MDB and SRC. In fact, he was the head of that special taskforce.

That investigation was to look into any wrongdoings in 1MDB and SRC. In the weeks preceding the investigation, we know that there were expose by the Wall Street Journal and other publications about the sum of USD 681 million being transferred into bank accounts believed to be the Prime Minister’s account. (The Prime Minister has since admitted that there were “political donations” in his account.)

It is without doubt that the Honourable Prime Minister may be implicated in the investigations by the said special taskforce. Being so, it is respectfully submitted that the Prime Minister was in a position of conflict or potential conflict. That conflict of interest would surely, under the law, disqualify him from advising the King to dismiss the Attorney General.

In those circumstances, the Prime Minister ought to have relinquished his power to advise the King. Arguably, the proper person to advise the King would then be the Deputy Prime Minister. This could be formalised by a cabinet resolution giving the Deputy Prime Minister authority to do so.

More so in a case where no acceptable reason was given for the dismissal. In this respect, it is noted that the official reason was one of health. Apparently the former Attorney General has health problems. However, it is a known fact among the legal circle that the former Attorney General has had the health problems for some time and he did not find the necessity to resign from the problems. In any event, his term would lapse in the month of October this year.

The Prime Minister’s failure to disqualify himself from advising the King due to his conflict of interest renders his advice invalid and unconstitutional. The King had in fact and in law acted on a non-advice.


Conclusion

There is quite obviously a strong arguable case that the dismissal of the Attorney General was unconstitutional. Added to the issues here are also the issues raised by the President of the Bar Council on July 28th this year.

The general public is of course not appraised of all the facts leading to the dismissal of the Attorney General. Utmost in the mind of the general populace is whether there were valid reasons for the dismissal and whether the dismissal was done in a proper manner.

Of course, had there been a cabinet decision on the matter, the chorus of objection and ridicule would be less strident.

Even then questions would still remain on whether the dismissal was politically motivated or worse still, whether it was a part of a series of acts that were designed to stultify investigations into alleged wrongdoings.

The people cannot be blamed for speculating.

Especially in a climate where transparency is at a premium.

14 comments:

Nana Kassim said...

You have presented the case in a manner which makes it extremely difficult for anyone not to understand the conclusion that one can draw from the facts. However, I believe you did not intend nor expect the 3 million Malaysians to read this. In any case, what you have presented here is not meant for the 3 million Malaysians and their leaders. It is to serve as food for thought for the Conference of Rulers.

Negeri Sembilan prince Tunku Zain Al-Abidin had expressed caution in any intervention on the people’s behalf lest their actions be deemed as unconstitutional. However, that was then. As I had mentioned in an fb posting earlier, "....in the 80s when the then PM launched a campaign against the Rulers, the raykat had no access to news and views except those controlled by the govt. As to be expected, the rakyat were easily swayed to the side of the govt. With the current technology where the rakyat have access to facts that the govt wish to suppress, would the rakyat choose to remain ignorant or oblivious of the truth....?"

mark shahabudin said...

What this all comes down to is this. Gani Patel is still the Attorney General. If that is the case then what legal effect would decisions made by the newly appointed AG have? It can get really messy.

Abdullah Abdul Rahman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abdullah Abdul Rahman said...

Encik Azhar

You would be well aware that in the Federal Constitution the phrase 'during the pleasure of the YDPA' appears at three places. You have pointed out that it appears at Art. 145(5) in relation to the AG. It also appears at Art. 43(5) where it says that Ministers other than the Prime Minister hold office 'during the pleasure of the YDPA.

In relation to Art. 43(5), we have the decision of the Court of Appeal in DSAI v PP [2000] 2 CLJ 695 where Lamin PCA held as follow:

"Under [Art. 43(5)] a Minister other than the Prime Minister holds office during the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. In factual terms, he holds office at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. This means that the Prime Minister may revoke his appointment at any time. Of course formality demands that the revocation of his appointment shall be acted upon by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong "on the advice of the Prime Minister". The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must act on such advice. Therefore the conspiracy element has no place in the matter of the revocation of the appellant's appointment. The Prime Minister has decided to terminate his appointment and he shall have no means of redress."

The aforesaid decision of Lamin PCA has been affirmed by the Federal Court in DSAI v Perdana Menteri Malaysia [2010] 5 CLJ 359. The 2010 case is a case involving a direct challenge by DSAI against his removal as the DPM and a cabinet member where PM Mahathir had dismissed DSAI after merely informed the YDPA of the dismissal as opposed to advising the YDPA to dismiss him.

The third place where the the phrase "during the pleasure of the YDPA" appears is at Art. 132(2A) in relation to the manner in which public servants hold office. However, the crucial difference between the public servants and the AG as well as the Ministers is the right to be heard before any dismissal that is granted to the public servants under Art. 135.

So, while all three categories namely, the public servants, the AG and the Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the YDPA, only the public servants are expressly protected from instant dismissal under the Federal Constitution.

Question: Since the formula used in both Art. 145(5) and Art. 43(5) is the same i.e. "during the pleasure of the YDPA", do you think that the decision in the DSAI cases on Art. 43(5) would be applicable to the dismissal of AG Gani Patail in a manner that validates that dismissal even in the absence of advice to the YDPA and good grounds?

Anonymous said...

i say azhar, i think you punya certipiet/lesen law suma kena buang tong sampahlah. hahaha

treehole lover said...

Considering it's a legal piece and we're looking at this from the legal side of things, what authority or principle supports your notion that "That conflict of interest would surely, under the law, disqualify him from advising the King to dismiss the Attorney General."
Assuming your legal arguments are sound, who's to take the action against the PM? Bar Council? The people? Is this a matter that should be resolved in court?

Mafia Keling kuasai Najib said...

For 60 years pemerinthan kerjaan Melayu UMNO telah di dalangi oleh mafia keling.
Kenapa tiada se siapa persoal 8.5 billion untuk IPP buruk Ananda Krishnan?
Kenapa tiada ahli UMNO persoal 2.3 billionIPP untuk Cina Genting?
Kenapa MIC menyerang Zeti?

Selama ini, kita telah bangkitkan kemungkinan Presiden UMNO dan kerajaan Melayu di dalangi oleh mafia keling atau triad Cina.

Nah sekarang kita lihat bagaimana TIMBALAN PRESIDEN UMNO, orang Melayu terkuat di Persekutuan Tanah Melayu diberi amaran tentang bercakap.

Ini sesuatu yang amat membimbangkan dan pada yang sama adalah saat wakeup kepada semua umat Melayu dan ahli UMNO. Memang ada kuasa ghaib yang merompak ekonomi Melayu di Tanah Melayu ini!

Kemiskinan dan jurang kekayaan yang meluas untuk Cina seperti Jho Low dan Ananda Krishnan adalah dirancang oleh kumpulan ghaib ini dengan menyuap seorang saja pemimpin Melayu, yaitu Presiden UMNO.

Dengan menguasai Presiden UMNO segala tindak tanduk mereka konon atas nama UMNO tetap mereka selitkan orang orang keling seperti penarik kereta Azeez Rahim dalam tabung 70 billion orang Melayu. Naina Merican dalam Amanah Raya, Ranjit Singh dalam SC dsb. Dan untuk menguasai MACC mereka masukan keling Ali Hamsa sebagai backup untuk menutup tindakan keatas boneka mereka Najib.

Ali Hamsa melantik keling Irwan ke dalam MOF dan memindahkan pegawai MACC!!

Itu namanya strategik planning.
Lihat saja Ranjit Singh, Azeez Rahim, Reezal Merican, Ali Hamsa , Ali Abul,Nor Yackup, Syed Moktar, Zambry Kader,Merican, Kalimullah, Munir Majid, MAHB, Tony Fernandes, Gnanalingam, Mydin, Ananda Krishnan.... memonopoli aset dan lesen Tanah Melayu.
Adakah ini di setujui oleh orang Melayu UMNO yang dimabukan dengan doa untuk malaysia tapi duit bagi india dan Cina?
RM42 billion hutang diambil oleh Kerajaan UMNO untuk dibagikan kepada India, Cina dan Arab.
Presiden UMNO dapat 4 billion happy....
MT dapat 1 atau 2 million happy... gila apa manusia yang gila duit dalam UMNO? Jual bangas
jual kedaulatan Tanah Melayu mengalahkan Kesultanan Melayu semasa zaman British dahulu.
Ahli UMNO perlu celik.. Tanah Melayu ni kaya raya...
Aset seperti pelabuhan, beras, bauxite, emas adalah hak dan kepunyaan orang Melayu seperti dalam yang di tetapkan oleh Sultan Sultan Melayu semasa pembentukan Persekutuan.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu adalah hak Melayu bukan hak Cina GAMUDA dan India MMC.
Bangsa India dan Cina seperti Jho Low dan Tony Fernandes, Ananda Krishnan telah mempengaruhi Presiden Presiden UMNO yang konon memperjuangkan United Malays National Organisation.
Baru kini pemimpin UMNO seperti Muhyidin sedar ada kuasa ghaib dibelakang kerajaan Melayu UMNO. Dahulu Presiden UMNO menyorok dibelakang MCA dan MIC konon untuk semua. Tetapi apabila Melayu yang menerajui kerajaan maka perkara yang sama tetap berlaku.

Orang-orang India dalam MIC menyelar Gov BNM Zeti! Persatuan perniagaan India menyerang Zeti! Mereka tidak mempersoalkan bayaran melampau 8.5 ribu bilioon dan 5 ribu untuk hutang Ananda Krishnan.

Timbalan Presiden UMNO sendiri diberi amaran oleh kuncu mafia India yang sebenarnya gangster yang menjalankan penipuan di Khazanah dan 1MDB untuk bagaimana bersuara. Ini adalah satu perkara yang biadap dan menunjukan Presiden UMNO Najib dibawah kuasa puppet master yang kita orang Melayu dan ahli UMNO masih tidak faham.

Mungkin kah mereka mempunyai maklumat tentang kejahatan Najib sehingga dia tunduk kepada rompakan besar besaran 42 ribu juta? Adakah kuasa jahat telah menguasai Presiden UMNO sehingga dia sanggup meminggirkan TIMBALAN PRESIDEN UMNO sendiri? Gila apa, presiden UMNO tidak percaya kepada Timbalan Presiden UMNO.

kudalari said...

.

,

Hello Treehole Lover

Satu tulisan yang menarik!
.


Saya ada tulis pasal nilai IPP. IPP itu tak lebih dari 2 enjin jet dari

Boeing 747 di pasang di dalam satu bangunan. No big technology.
/

Berapa harga 1 unit full spec Boeing 747?
.

Answer. 500 juta USD [ini sudah masuk semua options]
.


Yang tak ada di dalam IPP system hanyalah 2 alternator yang keluarkan tenaga

elektrik dari enjin Turbine itu. katakanlah 5 peratus dari harga jet.

Di dalam Ipp kita pasang 2 turbine- 1 running , 1 standby [techspeak ;on barring'].

Standby Turbine berjalan tapi at 800 ~1000 rpm]

jadi kalau 1 Boeing 747 ada 4 enjin berharga USD 500 juta. Ipp yang pakai 2 enjin

bolih diestimate dengan nilai 250 juta USD. Harga di masa pembelian ialah USD 250x

3.2 juta [800 juta ringgit ]. Ingat dibawah 1 billion usd kita bolih dapat 1 ipp

yang bolih pakai delama 20 tahun trouble free. ini Mat Najib beli IPP second hand

yang dah takde book value dengan billion billion. Any power professional bolih bagi

tahu data ini. Cari aje google pasal boeing 747 -xxx yang latest. Kita bolih

estimate harga ipp satu set up yang agak lo-tech.

,

.

khong khek khuat
.

.

.

kudalari said...

.

,

Hello Treehole Lover

Satu tulisan yang menarik!
.


Saya ada tulis pasal nilai IPP. IPP itu tak lebih dari 2 enjin jet dari

Boeing 747 di pasang di dalam satu bangunan. No big technology.
/

Berapa harga 1 unit full spec Boeing 747?
.

Answer. 500 juta USD [ini sudah masuk semua options]
.


Yang tak ada di dalam IPP system hanyalah 2 alternator yang keluarkan tenaga

elektrik dari enjin Turbine itu. katakanlah 5 peratus dari harga jet.

Di dalam Ipp kita pasang 2 turbine- 1 running , 1 standby [techspeak ;on barring'].

Standby Turbine berjalan tapi at 800 ~1000 rpm]

jadi kalau 1 Boeing 747 ada 4 enjin berharga USD 500 juta. Ipp yang pakai 2 enjin

bolih diestimate dengan nilai 250 juta USD. Harga di masa pembelian ialah USD 250x

3.2 juta [800 juta ringgit ]. Ingat dibawah 1 billion usd kita bolih dapat 1 ipp

yang bolih pakai delama 20 tahun trouble free. ini Mat Najib beli IPP second hand

yang dah takde book value dengan billion billion. Any power professional bolih bagi

tahu data ini. Cari aje google pasal boeing 747 -xxx yang latest. Kita bolih

estimate harga ipp satu set up yang agak lo-tech.

,

.

khong khek khuat
.

.

.

Dewi Aja said...

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Anonymous said...

Bullshit Art. You know you are an asshole

Anonymous said...

Art is a cunt

Tracey Pullman said...

I need the best lawyer that I can get to file a complaint against my client.
Absolute best Kirkland law firms

IBU SUNARTI DI KALIMANTAN said...

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(((( BUKA BLO DANA GHAIB DAN NOMOR GHAIB MBAH RAWA GUMPALA ))))







Ass...saya tidak menyanka kalau saya sudah bisa sesukses ini dan ini semua berkat bantuan MBAH RAWA GUMPALA,saya yang dulunya bukan siapa-siapa bahkan saya juga selalu dihina orang dan alhamdulillah kini sekaran saya sudah punya segalanya,itu semua atas bantuan beliau.Saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH RAWA GUMPALA atas bantuan nomor dan dana ghaibnya,alhamdulillah kini saya sudah bisa membuka usaha kembali yang dulunya pakum karna masalah faktor ekonomi dan kini kami sekeluarga sudah sangat serba berkecukupan dan tidak pernah lagi hutang sana sini,,bagi anda yang punya masalah keuangan jangan sungkan-sungkan untuk menhubungi MBAH RAWA GUMPALA karna insya allah beliau akan membantu semua masalah anda dan baru kali ini juga saya mendaptkan para normal yang sangat hebat dan benar-benar terbukti nyata,ini bukan hanya sekedar cerita tapi inilah kisah nyata yang benar-benar nyata dari saya.