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FEER: A swift rise [Ghani]
By S. Jayasankaran

22/11/2001 2:46 pm Thu



By S. Jayasankaran

On November 19, Malaysia's Law Minister Rais Yatim announced that Abdul Gani Patail, currently prosecution chief at the attorney general's chambers, would replace Ainum Mohamad Saaid who abruptly resigned as attorney general for "health reasons."

Gani, 46, has had a swift ride to the top. Already notable for winning several high-profile cases for the government, he shot into public prominence in 1998 when he led the prosecution of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in trials involving abuse of power and sodomy. Convicted in both, Anwar is currently serving a 15-year sentence, although appeals are under way.

But Gani's promotion has raised eyebrows. Opposition politician Lim Kit Siang called the move "most controversial," referring to a statement made by the Federal Court in June after it freed Zainur Zakaria, a lawyer for Anwar, from a contempt of court conviction. The court said at the time that the prosecution, led by Gani, should provide "some answers to the allegations on the fabrication of evidence." Zainur had been convicted after seeking to disqualify Gani and a colleague as prosecutors for allegedly fabricating evidence against Anwar.

Ainum's hasty departure has also led to questions. Rais denied that she was pressured to resign but Ainum, a close associate of former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, had only served 11 months as attorney general. "I'm not well, but I am not at liberty to discuss my medical condition," she told reporters. Her resignation takes effect on January 1.