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Mahathir defends choice of AG

Alor Star

PRIME Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended the Pakatan Harapan administration's move to nominate veteran lawyer Tommy Thomas as the new attorney-general, which was reportedly snubbed by the King.

Dr Mahathir said his government had acted within the Constitution in nominating Mr Thomas, as it was in accordance with the government's role in advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

He said the federal government is looking into a solution on the matter but declined to elaborate on the solution as it was still in progress, the New Straits Times reported.

"I cannot comment further as it is still in progress," he told a press conference after chairing the Kedah PH meeting here on Sunday.

Asked whether the rejection was based on claims that Mr Thomas was a supporter of a "secular movement", Dr Mahathir said Istana Negara's statement did not mention any such link.

On Mr Thomas' status as the lawyer for Lim Guan Eng in the latter's abuse of power and graft trial in Penang, the prime minister said it should not be an issue because as a defence lawyer, it is his right to represent anyone.

It was reported that Dr Mahathir's move to nominate Mr Thomas as the attorney-general post to replace Tan Sri Apandi Ali, was turned down by the King, who had allegedly wanted the candidate to be someone who qualifies to be a judge or is even a retired judge, regardless of race.

The Malay Rulers will convene at Istana Negara on Tuesday to discuss and resolve the impasse over the appointment of a new attorney-general.

In a statement today, Keeper of the Rulers' Seal Syed Danial Syed Ahmad confirmed that invitation letters have been issued to the Malay Rulers two days ago.

He said that the meeting is for them to deliberate on the matter.

"At this moment, Putrajaya and Istana Negara have not arrived at any agreement regarding the termination of service of the current attorney-general (AG) and the candidate for his replacement.

"The Malay Rulers have been following this development and consider it their responsibility to help resolve this impasse," Mr Syed Danial said.

In the statement, he also quoted Articles 145 (1) and 145 (5) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 145 (1) states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person - qualified to be a Federal Court judge - to be AG.

Article 145 (5) states that the AG shall hold office during the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and may at any time resign his office.

It further stated that unless he is a member of the Cabinet, the AG shall receive remuneration as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine.

On Saturday, online news portal The Malaysian Insight reported that Dr Mahathir's administration and Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V are involved in a protracted disagreement over who to replace current AG Mohamed Apandi Ali.

It was reported that the Pakatan Harapan government had allegedly been lobbying for veteran lawyer and constitutional expert Mr Thomas to be appointed as AG, while the Yang di-Pertuan Agong wanted a candidate who is of Malay-Muslim, among others.

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