17 August 2009

A-G: Selangor government circular null and void

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 17 — The Selangor government's circular prohibiting state officials from giving statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) after office hours is null and void, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said.

"The MACC's function is governed by certain laws. We're going to file an application in court for a declaration that the directive is null and void. As far as the law is concerned, this is purely unlawful.

"I will file the application within this week," he told a joint news conference with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz after the opening of the 48th Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) annual session today.

Nazri said the Selangor government's action could be construed as an attempt to obstruct MACC officers from performing their duties.

"No circular from any state government can prevent the MACC from carrying out their the independent investigations. I think this is an attempt by Khalid (Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim) to obstruct MACC officers from discharging their duties," Nazri said.

Abdul Gani and Nazri were asked to comment on the circular, issued on July 28, instructing all state government officers not to give interviews to the MACC outside their office buildings.

The circular also states that all meetings or interviews for that purpose can only be conducted from 8am to 6.30pm.

Taking the opposition to task over the matter, Nazri asked: "Can you imagine the response from them (opposition parties) if the prime minister were to issue the same circular?"

Nazri also said that the opposition parties were embarrassed as they were now under investigations for corrupt practices.

"When the BN was the government (in Selangor) they accused it of corruption. Now they too are involved in corrupt practices. So they are embarrassed and try to demoralise our officers. What are they scared of?" he said.

Nazri also refuted claims that the MACC was targeting non-Malay leaders.

"Do you know how many Umno members have been investigated? Why turn this into a race issue? Why is it that when Umno members were investigated no one said anything?

"The MACC is an independent body and will take action irrespective of race. The MACC should take action without fear of favour," he said.

On calls for MACC officers to record their investigation process, Nazri said: "I'm sure MACC officers will take the necessary action to ensure they are not accused of anything."

Meanwhile, on the issue of perjury in high-profile cases, Abdul Gani said a proper investigation must be done to determine the reasons why a witness committed perjury.

"We cannot simply charge them without studying first why they 'turn turtle'," he said. — Bernama

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