The abrupt removal of Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail midway through the special task force investigation into 1MDB has raised suspicions.
"To terminate his service in the middle of an ongoing investigation involving the prime minister raises a lot of questions about the intention behind this 'sacking'," Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan ( photo ) said in a statement today.
The task force comprises the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Bank Negara, and it refers to the Attorney-General's Chambers for legal advice.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation by the special task force, the case cannot proceed without the endorsement of the attorney-general as the position holds all prosecution powers.
Wan Saiful said the move to "sack" Gani raises concern there is pressure on the special task force to back off from its investigation.
"People are already talking about a potential desperate conspiracy by the prime minister to stay in office.
"This action, unfortunately, strengthens the conspiracy theory and further weakens the moral authority of Najib to stay in office," he added.
Gani is only due to retire in October and has expressed surprised at the announcement that his term has ended due to "health reasons".
Echoing this concern was Johor PKR deputy chief Jimmy Puah ( photo ), who noted that the task force was in the processing of arresting several individuals in its probe.
"No doubt, one can only conclude that this has incurred the wrath of the prime minister and quite possibly the revelation of findings from the task force could lead to an unfavourable situation for the prime minister," the Bukit Batu state assemblyperson said in a statement.
Puah urged the task force to press on without fear or favour, regardless of the attorney-general's removal.