KUALA LUMPUR: Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim (pix) today questioned the government’s decision to appoint a lawyer from a private firm to act as a deputy public prosecutor in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s cases.
He pointed out that there were many senior deputy public prosecutors and public prosecutors in the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“It makes me wonder whether our own DPPs are competent or not,” he said when debating Budget 2020 at the committee stage.
In August last year, Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas appointed Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to lead the prosecution in several cases of corruption and money laundering involving Najib, who also challenged the appointment.
Thomas has since defended the appointment, saying the 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial requires the expertise of the former Federal Court judge due to the complex nature of the case.
Hassan pointed out that hardworking DPPs should be rewarded by being appointed as the prosecutors for Najib’s cases.
“From my experience, I find them to be very competent,” he said.
When opposition leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera) interjected and asked if Sri Ram should recuse himself and allow a lawyer from the AGC to take over, Hassan said he was afraid of a conflict of interest.
He said the lawyer may help the government prosecute someone today, but the next day, he may act as a lawyer for someone else and go against the government.
Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid (BN-Kuala Kangsar) also echoed similar sentiment saying that many in the legal fraternity have questioned the AG’s decision.
Sri Ram has also been tasked with leading the prosecution in the International Petroleum Investment Co case involving Najib and former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.
The former federal court judge is also tasked with prosecuting lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah over a RM9.5 million money laundering case.
Sri Ram is currently leading the prosecution team in the 1MDB case where Najib is standing trial on 25 money laundering and abuse of power charges amounting to RM2.28 billion.