Malaysia Attorney-General told to go on leave; new anti-graft agency chief to be named

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Attorney-General Mohamad Apandi Ali has been told to go on leave, pending an investigation into his role in allegedly covering up a massive corruption scandal involving ousted leader Najib Razak.

The Solicitor-General will stand in for Mr Mohamad Apandi with immediate effect, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a news conference on Monday (May 14).

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Dr Mahathir said several complaints had been made against Mr Mohamed Apandi but no official report has been made on the allegations against him.

“The position of the Attorney-General is a little difficult because he has just been given a contract and (we) have to follow the law. Several measures must be taken for a suspension, so the Attorney-General is asked to go on leave,” Dr Mahathir added.

“While he is on leave, the Solicitor-General can stand in for him and perform his duties. We still have the Solicitor-General to discharge the duties of the Attorney-General,”

Mr Mohamed Apandi Ali had cleared Mr Najib of any wrongdoing in 2016, relating to the RM2.5 billion (US$681 million) that was deposited in the former prime minister’s personal account.

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Said Dr Mahathir on Monday: “We need to ensure that investigations into corruption take priority. We need to ensure that the Attorney-General Chambers perform their task according to the law.”

When asked if the government has made any request to Interpol to locate Malaysian financier Jho Low, who is accused of links to a plot to siphon billions of dollars from 1MDB, Dr Mahathir said: “We have not requested but we roughly know where he is.”

Meanwhile, a new chief of Malaysia’s anti-graft agency will have to be appointed, after Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad resigned.

He submitted his resignation letter to the Chief Secretary of the Government Dr Ali Hamsa in the morning, reported The Star.

When asked if the MACC chief would be investigated, Dr Mahathir said: “Not only him.”

“We cannot do everything at the same time at one go,” he added. “We have to take time. There are many faults committed by the previous government, but we cannot do everything in one day, so you have to be patient.”

The 92-year-old prime minister also said all government ministries have been instructed to ensure that no documents are taken out or destroyed.

On barring Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor from leaving the country, Dr Mahathir said: “We will prevent whenever we have suspicions that they are involved in crimes. In order to ease the investigation process, we cannot allow these people to leave the country.”

However, he did not reveal the names of others have have been prevented from leaving Malaysia.

On the issue of the Cabinet, Dr Mahathir said he hopes to announce the names of seven more ministers this week, adding that the parties in the Pakatan Harapan coalition have submitted names. 

He revealed that Lim Guan Eng, who is involved in a pending corruption case, could lose his finance minister portfolio if the law does not permit him to swear in.

“We need to follow the rule of law if he can, he can be menteri (minister),” Dr Mahathir said. 


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