Selangor govt directed to file reply to AG's application

SHAH ALAM: The High Court has directed the Selangor government to file an affidavit in reply in 14 days, against the Attorney-General's application to declare as null and void, a circular prohibiting state officials from giving statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) after office hours.

Deputy Registrar Mohd Hafizi Abdul Halim made the order in chambers when the case came up for case management here today. The court fixed Sept 8 for further case management.

Other than the Selangor government, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail also named the Selangor state secretary as the defendant.

Senior federal counsel See Mee Chun appeared on behalf of the plaintiff while counsel Fahda Nur Ahmad Kamar and Yusmadi Yusoff appeared for the defendants.

On Aug 20, Abdul Gani filed a preliminary suit in the High Court to declare as null and void the circular issued by Selangor state secretary Datuk Ramli Mahmud on July 28.

In his affidavit in support, he claimed that the Selangor state secretary issued the circular to all officers and staff under the state's administration who had received a directive from MACC to attend interviews to help in investigation.

Abdul Gani said the circular prohibited all Selangor state government officers and staff from attending interviews (or become witnesses) by MACC outside the office and that all meetings or interviews be held between 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. only.

The circular also said that the Selangor government also offered legal service to officers and staff during the interviews by MACC.

Abdul Gani said that the circular was null and void as it was against Section 30 (1)(a) and Section 30 (3)(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 (Act 694).

"I strongly believe that the circular dated July 28, 2009 had prevented MACC officers from conducting their statutory duties provided by parliament under Section 7, 11 (1), 30 (1)(a) and Section 30 (3)(a) of Act 694."

Abdul Gani said that since the circular was an administrative directive, Selangor officers and staff were bound by it and disciplinary action could be taken against those who failed to comply.

"In discharging my responsibility, I will ensure that action, directives or circulars issued by any party, including the defendants, are not against the laws of the country.

"I believe that as the Attorney-General and guardian of public interest, I am responsible for defending federal laws, in this case Act 694, so that public good is achieved and that public interest is not affected," he said.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim had said the circular titled "Pekeliling Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri Selangor Bilangan 4 Tahun 2009" was issued following a decision made at the State Exco meeting on July 22 to ensure the safety of officers after the death of Teoh Beng Hock.

Teoh, 30, political secretary to State Exco member for New Villages and Illegal Factories Management Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on level 5 of Plaza Masalam here on July 16.

He had given a statement to MACC as a witness in investigation into alleged abuse of state funds. (Bernama)

MySinchew 2009.08.25