PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas can opt to either function as adviser to Putrajaya or be a public prosecutor pending an amendment to the Federal Constitution to separate the two roles, a constitutional lawyer said.
“He (Thomas) can institute a change by practice,” said Gurdial Singh Nijar.
He said this when asked how Thomas could function without a conflict of interest when the roles of AG and public prosecutor were inseparable under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution.
That provision states that the AG shall have the discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence in a civil court.
Gurdial said Thomas had been mindful of the need for a separation of the roles as early as 1983.
Last year, Thomas, who represented the Malaysian Bar, argued this conflict issue in the Federal Court.
Gurdial, who is a columnist in a local daily, said two days ago that in the interim, Thomas could institute a de facto separation practice to reduce the gap between the reality and the promise in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto.
The PH manifesto pledged to separate the office of the public prosecutor from the role of the AG as the government’s adviser.
At the moment, the PH government lacks a two-thirds parliamentary majority to amend the constitution on its own, and will need to rely on support from opposition MPs.
Thomas was appointed AG on Tuesday on a two-year contract.
In his first press conference, he said his personal position was consistent with that of the Malaysian Bar that the AG should not double up as public prosecutor.
“So I’m very happy that the reforming government which I now serve has adopted that stand, and we will work towards that.” he said.