KUCHING: Stick to the law in the appointment of the next Attorney-General (AG), whereby race and religion are not dragged into the issue, says Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian.
He pointed out that Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution provided that The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the AG for the Federation.
"By virtue of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia, and we are concerned that the law must be followed in the appointment of our next AG.
"We are disappointed that race and religion have been dragged into the equation when there is no legal basis for these to be of any consideration in the appointment of the AG," said Baru who is Selangau MP and Ba'kelalan state assemblyman.
Baru was responding to Institute of Islamic Strategic Research Malaysia (Iksim) chief executive officer, Prof Datuk Mahamad Naser Disa opposing Pakatan Harapan's proposal to pick Tommy Thomas as the next AG.
Mahamad had said a non-Muslim could not assist the Yang di-Pertua Agong in preserving the sanctity of Islam at all times and therefore, breached Articles 145(2) of the Federal Constitution.
Baru said the result of the 14th General Election had shown that Malaysians rejected the divisive politics of race and religion practised by Umno, adding that the various races had come together to elect this new government and it was truly unfortunate that the reluctance to accept Thomas as the new AG threatened to again, separate the people.
"This is a new beginning for Malaysia where we must learn to look at ourselves as Malaysians, not as Chinese or Malay or Indian or Dayak," he noted.
Baru quoted former federal cabinet minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz as saying that this was the time for "Ketuanan Malaysia"; ie the stature, stability and strength of the country must come first.
He said having a competent and untainted AG would go a long way in showing that the new government was serious about the reforms they had promised to undertake.
"As practised in the Westminster system, the Agong appoints the Attorney-General on the advice of the Prime Minister.
"Many constitutional lawyers have pointed out that there is no provision in the Federal Constitution for the Agong to reject the prime minister's recommendation in the appointment of the AG," said Baru.
He said the Agong must know that the recommendation had the approval and support of the component parties of Pakatan Harapan, and of the fact that Malaysians just want to get on with rebuilding and restoring our country.
"Again, a large part of that depends on having a learned, capable and experienced lawyer as Attorney- General to deal with the complex legal fallout from the 1MBD corruption scandal."