The question that is swirling around is, did the Attorney General, Idrus Harun, act in propriety when he chose to settle Apandi Ali’s suit separately between the sacked former attorney general and the federal government? Was he right in doing so?
As we are aware, Apandi had sued Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the government jointly, with Mahathir as the first defendant and the government as the second one. Apandi’s suit was not filed separately but jointly, taking Mahathir and the government to court. In fact, in November 2020, Mahathir and the government also filed a statement of defence jointly.
That being the case, how did the attorney general leave out the first defendant – Mahathir – and seek a separate out-of-court settlement involving only the government? What happened to Mahathir’s involvement in Apandi’s suit?
Not being schooled in law, the common sense in me wonders whether the attorney general has this absolute authority to do as he likes. Since the former prime minister and the government were jointly sued, doesn’t he have a duty to represent both parties at all times? Does he have that authority to drop one party and solely represent the other party only?
As far as we know, Apandi had not withdrawn his suit against Mahathir. If he had, then it would be a straightforward case between him and the government. In that hypothetical case, the attorney general has no alternative but to represent only the government. But that is not the point here.
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What is the legality that governs this issue? Will some legal eagle out there throw some light on this issue?
From the above, it is abundantly clear that Mahathir was very much part of Apandi’s suit at the time of the out-of-court settlement. As such, he has as much right to demand to know the details of the settlement. One would think that the attorney general was morally bound to keep Mahathir informed while the suit was active and ongoing.
Coming back to Apandi and his remarks and views, it may appear that there was much befuddled and muddled thinking in what he says, as can be discerned below:
Apandi: “It’s not he (Mahathir) who has the right to agree or disagree (on the settlement made) because the suit against the government has been settled out of court.”
Apandi, you are absolutely wrong!
The suit was not only against the government. The suit was against Mahathir as the first defendant and the government as the second defendant. Both were sued jointly. How come the suit was settled without Mahathir’s involvement?
Apandi sued Mahathir not as an individual but as the prime minister who sacked him. The government cannot ignore the former prime minister’s involvement and only address the part involving the second defendant.
As Mahathir was a party to the suit, shouldn’t he have been the first to be consulted and briefed before the case was settled? He had to write and ask for the terms of settlement reached; otherwise, like the rest of the rakyat, he would have been in the dark.
Apandi: “The one who represents the government is the attorney-general. And if the AG says so, we have to comply. (Mahathir) has no right to question it.”
Apandi, you are absolutely wrong!
If the settlement was between two private individuals, then others have no right to demand to know the terms of settlement. In this case, it involves the federal government; when it involves the government, the nation and its people are involved. Therefore, we have every right to know the terms of the settlement.
We have a right to know how much compensation was paid. We have a right to know why this suit was settled five days earlier when the trial was scheduled to begin on 18 April 2022. The case was ready to roll on 18, 20, 21 and 22 April, but it was aborted five days earlier by the attorney since he chose to settle out of court. Why? The attorney general owes us an explanation.
Apandi: “The settlement was made three weeks ago, why only raise it now? It is as though he was seeking attention,”
Apandi, you are absolutely wrong!
Is it wrong to raise it three weeks later? If Mahathir had been told of the settlement, in all probability, he would have raised this matter much earlier, almost immediately. According to Mahathir, “I was shocked recently to read that a settlement was reached outside of court between the government and Apandi, with the terms kept a secret.”
It was only upon Mahathir writing to the attorney general asking for the terms of settlement that it was disclosed. Only then was Mahathir in a position to question it.
In a letter dated 5 June 2018, the chief secretary informed Apandi that the King had consented to the termination of his contract.
Apandi filed the suit on 13 October 2020, naming Mahathir and the government respectively as first and second defendants, seeking among others a declaration that the termination of his contract as the attorney general, made by the former prime minister, “is invalid and unlawful”.
He acted more than two years later. It took him more than two years to file a suit challenging his dismissal. What does that tell of him? Did the delay diminish his right or credibility to challenge his termination? Likewise, did Mahathir lose his right to question the terms of settlement, just three weeks later?
Apandi: “The terms are secret. This is normal and not out of the ordinary.”
Apandi, you are absolutely wrong!
If the settlement was between two private individuals, then others have no right to demand to know the terms of the settlement. It becomes a private matter between two private individuals. Others don’t have a right to know the terms of settlement.
In this case, it involves the federal government; when it involves the government, the nation and its people are involved.
Therefore, we have every right to know the terms of the settlement. We have a right to know how much compensation was paid. We have a right to know why this suit was settled five days earlier when the trial was scheduled to begin on 18 April 2022.
This settlement cannot resort to the privilege of privacy and be kept under wraps. The compensation paid did not come from the attorney general’s pocket. It came from the national coffers. It’s our money, and we have every right to know how much was paid to Apandi and why.
Is it because the settlement itself was an embarrassing solution that it is too shameful to reveal the amount of the settlement?
Yes, Apandi, you are absolutely wrong in your reasoning!
Did Apandi have a watertight case?
No, he did not have a watertight case. It was not an open-and-shut case either. Only a competent court could have ruled on it based on its merits after a hearing. We had ipso facto forfeited this advantage when the attorney general did not want to go to court for a fair trial and a verdict.
Following the out-of-court settlement, many Malaysians wondered whether the termination of Apandi’s services was carried out according to the Federal Constitution.
Mahathir said that when he was giving his statement to current Attorney General Idrus Harun over the suit, Idrus told him the termination of Apandi’s services was according to procedure. “He said the government and I advised the King rightly, for Apandi’s services to be terminated.”
If the King had been informed and they had his consent to dismiss him, how could that be a violation of the contract needing a judicial intervention? The constitutional requirements were observed and implemented under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution:
- (1) The Yang di-PertuanAgong 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 Attorney-General for the Federation.(5) … the Attorney-General shall hold office during the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong …
Through a statement of defence filed in November 2020, Mahathir and the government insisted that the termination of Apandi’s contract was valid and in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution.
As the King had been informed and they had his consent to dismiss Apandi, how could that be a violation of the contract?
Apandi had been informed in a letter dated 5 June 2018, by the chief secretary that the King had consented to Apandi’s termination. Apandi was aware his termination was in order and beyond question.
Technically speaking, was Apandi right in suing Mahathir and the government? Mahathir did not terminate his services – Mahathir had no such authority. He merely initiated the process for dismissal but it was executed by the Agong. The Agong was technically the appointing authority and he had the authority to terminate it at any time deemed necessary. It was the Agong who revoked his appointment. Is this not the case, from the legal perspective? Perhaps some constitutional lawyers can enlighten us.
As a matter of legal technicality, did Apandi sue the correct parties?
In any case, the court would have been the right forum to answer these questions. The court would also have:
(1) determined whether due process was observed when Apandi was sacked;
(2) settled the nagging question whether Apandi had a case favouring him; and
(3) decided whether he was entitled to any compensation and, if so, how much.
These are questions of public interest, which the Rakyat are entitled to ask and to know the answers.
In open court, all these questions would have been raised and answered and our doubts cleared.
But the attorney general prevented this from happening when he aborted the pending case and settled it out of court for whatever reason; and for an undisclosed sum of our money.
In the end, we think both Apandi and the attorney general were absolutely wrong!
AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
- Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
- Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
- Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
- Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
- Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
They couldn’t care for right or wrong because who can take action against them?