Friday, July 31, 2015

Will Gani Patail have the gumption to stand up for justice?

Will Gani Patail have the gumption to stand up for justice?

by P Ramakrishnan - 31 Jul 2015

Attorney General Gani Patail was removed - Photo credit: issamichuzi.blogspot.com

What is certain is that the Attorney General’s term of tenure has been terminated. Whether that termination was done according to procedure, observing rules and regulations, is a point of contention. 

What is termination? It is bringing to an end the services of an employee before the mandatory age of retirement. Some may put it bluntly by stating that the employee concerned has been dismissed. In simple layperson’s language, it would mean sacked from service.

In Gani Patail’s case, it is very strange. He had been dismissed from his position; yet, he is allowed to continue in service until 6 October 2015, when he is legally required to retire from service.

In other words, his authority to act in his capacity as attorney general has been taken away from him – suddenly and immediately; it has been effectively and deliberately removed. What was intended was to render him incapable of exercising his powers as the Attorney General.

But strangely, he is allowed to continue in service – not withstanding his ‘health problems’ – as ‘a judicial and legal service officer’ without any authority and without any job specification. He is allowed to mark time without anything to do until his due date of retirement on 6 October 2015.

For the newly minted Attorney General to state that Gani had “neither been dismissed from nor reduced in rank” is a bewildering statement.

Does he now hold a parallel rank in the judicial and legal service? Or is he expected to take orders from his successor? Does he now head any department in the judicial and legal service? Does he have any specific duties to perform?

When the announcing authority, the Chief Secretary to the Government, had declared that Gani’s service as Attorney General had been terminated, it is not for the incoming attorney general to contradict him. Gani had been removed from his position as Attorney General – simply put, he has been dismissed from his post. And when that happens, he is reduced in rank. It is as simple as that!

Can you imagine his embarrassment? From top man, he has been reduced to a nonentity. Those who were taking orders from him will now completely ignore him!

In the case of Gani, he was not facing a disciplinary problem; nevertheless he has been ‘demoted’ from his previous position without just cause. He was denied his natural justice of defence, and action was simply taken arbitrarily to terminate his term of tenure. And by keeping him in the same department he is made to endure the humiliation inflicted on him on a daily basis. This is wrong.

According to the Chief Secretary to the Government, “The service of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as the Attorney General has been terminated effective 27 July due to health reasons”.

But the Attorney General was totally unaware of this development. He was taken aback on hearing the announcement because it had come as a total surprise suddenly.

If the action had been taken on health grounds, the Attorney General would have expected this announcement and would have been prepared to receive this news. In such a situation, there would have been some discussion prior to his termination. There was nothing to suggest that this was the case because the Attorney General was completely taken by surprise by the announcement.

When action is taken on medical grounds, there is a process to be followed. The civil servant can voluntarily opt for early retirement on medical grounds – in which case a medical board would be constituted to assess him. 

On the other hand, if a civil servant’s performance was found to be unsatisfactory on health grounds – too many MCs, etc – his head of department can refer him or her to a medical board for a decision.

There is a procedure for every civil servant when he or she is appointed or dismissed. This must be strictly adhered to. This procedure cannot be ignored or set aside under whatever circumstance.

As far as the Attorney General was concerned, he had apparently not submitted a letter requesting for an early retirement due to failing health. Neither had he been ordered to appear before a medical board for an assessment. Then how could his services arbitrarily be terminated without following the mandatory procedures?

It is ironical for the Chief Secretary, Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, to announce that the Attorney General had been terminated effective 27 July due to health reasons and, at the same time, to hope that “he will always be blessed with good health”. It is incongruous!

What is baffling is that in exactly 71 days the Attorney General would have retired gracefully.

The Chief Secretary’s comment following the termination of the Attorney General – “Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has contributed tremendously to the country as the attorney general. On behalf of the government, I wish to record my deepest appreciation and thanks for the service he has rendered…” – sounded hollow and without sincerity, according to the perception of thinking Malaysians. 

If this sentiment was expressed on 6 October 2015, the day of his mandatory retirement as attorney general, it would have made a great impact on the outgoing attorney general.

But after unceremoniously dismissing the Attorney General from his position without him knowing it first-hand, what effect would such a ‘glorious’ expression of sentiment have on the Attorney General? It is not too difficult to guess!

The intriguing question is why couldn’t the government have waited for another 71 days to allow the Attorney General to retire normally? What was the urgency to dismiss him post-haste and deprive him of his authority that comes with his position as the attorney general?

He was deliberately crippled, as it were, from exercising his authority as the attorney general from 27 July onwards. Why was that so?

As we know, it is the attorney general who authorises any prosecution to proceed; it is the attorney general who is responsible for any framing of charges against individuals deemed to be guilty and deserving to be prosecuted.

Was there a likelihood of someone very important in the higher-level hierarchy being targeted for action that triggered this sudden and hasty decision to dismiss the Attorney General?

Only the Attorney General can answer this, He has been involved in issues of right and wrong. He should know the difference between justice and injustice.

Was justice done to him? Tell us, Mr AG. What is the truth?

Malaysians are wondering, will Gani Patail have the gumption to stand up for justice?

In responding to these questions, we hope that the Attorney General will be guided by this saying:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke
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