- Top Prosecutors Seek Early Retirement
Two of Malaysia's most senior criminal prosecutors, namely Datuk Yusof Zainal Abiden and Mr Sallehuddin Saidin, are seeking optional retirement.
Datuk Yusof, 52, is the Chief of criminal prosecution at the Attorney-General's Chambers and Mr Sallehuddin, his 44-year-old Deputy, holds the post of chief of the classified cases unit.
Several lawyers say the move by Datuk Yusof and Mr Sallehuddin to take optional retirement appears to be motivated by underlying frustration. 'Taking optional retirement under these circumstances can be viewed as a sign of protest in the civil service,' said a senior KL constitutional lawyer, who is closely tracking developments.
Datuk Yusof and Mr Sallehuddin have yet to disclose why they intend to seek optional retirement.
But lawyers say the duo's planned exit from government service is linked to the handling of the ongoing high-profile trial for a Mongolian woman's murder, as well as widespread dissatisfaction over the goings-on within the A-G's Chambers.
Typically, lawyers stay with the A-G's Chambers for about 10 years before they move into the private sector, where financial returns are far more attractive.
Those who stay on in the civil service do so for two reasons. Some believe they have a shot at two of the most coveted positions in the Malaysian legal system - the posts of Attorney-General and Solicitor-General. Others stay on because of their ambitions to be
- Questions on the Judiciary
Questions are raised about the odd state of affairs where the country's top judge, Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, also holds a second position, that of Chief Judge of Malaya.
Senior government sources said that candidates whom Tun Ahmad Fairuz nominated had been shot down by the Conference of Rulers, made up of the country's nine Sultans who have veto powers over key government appointments.
Datuk Yusof Zainal Abiden and Mr Sallehuddin Saidin were principal players in preparing the government's case against three men charged with the gruesome murder of a 28-year-old Mongolian woman (Altantuya) last October. Mr Sallehuddin was originally slated to lead the prosecution in the case.
But Malaysia's Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, removed him from that role a day before the trial was initially set to begin on June 3.
The reason: Mr Sallehuddin had been seen playing badminton with the trial's judge, Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin.
Poor Handling by A-G Chambers of Other High-Profile Cases
The A-G's Chambers is under attack from judges and the public for its poor handling of several high-profile cases. They include:
The acquittal of persons charged with the murder of nightclub guest relations officer Norita Samsudin in 2003 and the murder of a 14-year-old Chinese national in 2005. The A-G's Chambers was ticked off by the presiding judge in the corruption trial of Datuk Eric Chia, the former managing director of Malaysia's scandal-ridden steel company Perwaja Steel, who was also acquitted in the end. The A-G's prosecutors are getting flak for their conduct of the ongoing trial for the murder of the Mongolian woman, Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu.Since the murder trial began on June 18, the prosecution's case has suffered a string of setbacks. The most glaring has been the prosecution's failure to adduce statements made by the accused relating to the crime.
Lawyers and opposition leaders have also questioned the prosecution's reluctance to pursue issues such as the apparent deletion of immigration records that would have removed any proof that Ms Altantuya had ever arrived in Malaysia.