Malaysia's main law association approved a motion yesterday calling on Attorney-General Apandi Ali to resign over his controversial role in clearing Datuk Seri Najib Razak of graft allegations in a case involving some US$700 million (S$952 million) found in the Prime Minister's bank accounts.
At its annual general meeting attended by about 1,110 lawyers, the Malaysian Bar voted overwhelmingly in support of the resolution which also calls for the Solicitor-General - Tan Sri Apandi's top assistant in the Attorney-General's Chambers - to take over the duties of public prosecutor in the cases involving the embattled Premier.
Bar president Steven Thiru told a press conference that while the resolution had no force against the A-G, who is not a member of the Bar, "certainly it would have some bearing" as the lawyers were his peers in the legal profession. "The Bar council is neutral, we are pro-justice and pro-rule of law. We were reacting to (such) an issue concerning the Attorney-General," he said.
Mr Najib himself has faced calls to resign and to answer charges over the money found in his accounts that came via companies and banks said to be linked to troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
The Bar - the statutory body that governs the legal profession in Peninsular Malaysia - has also filed for a judicial review of Mr Apandi's decision to close investigations into these fund transfers, citing the A-G's conflict of interest as he has advised the Prime Minister on matters relating to these cases.
PRO-RULE OF LAW
The Bar council is neutral, we are pro-justice and pro-rule of law.
BAR PRESIDENT STEVEN THIRU
Mr Najib appointed Mr Apandi, a former judge, to be the government's top lawyer just weeks after it was first reported that the money entered the Premier's accounts. The Bar said in its motion that "the manner and timing of his appointment raises the perception that (he) may have been appointed to speedily replace a public prosecutor who may have proceeded to institute criminal proceedings against Najib".
Meanwhile, Mr Najib, visiting his home state Pahang yesterday, said he was not a thief of public assets, Bernama news agency reported.
"If I had wanted to rob, I would have robbed the forest here (in Pahang) long ago. I didn't even take an inch, I didn't take a single tree in Pahang, I didn't take the bauxite mine, I didn't take anything.
"I have not changed my stand when I became Prime Minister, I will not take the people's property, don't think I am a crook, don't think I steal the people's property, I am the Prime Minister for the people," he told a gathering of some 5,000 Barisan Nasional supporters.