G25, comprising eminent former civil servants, has called attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali "arrogant" for describing them as "have-beens".
"With respect to the learned attorney-general, we consider it arrogant, crude and unnecessarily offensive for him to have referred to us as 'have-beens’.
"Secondly, Apandi appears to be under the delusion that since we have retired from government service, we can no longer contribute constructive ideas for the good governance of our country," G25 said in a statement tonight.
Apandi made the statement in an interview with The Malaysian Insider when he was asked to respond to G25's proposal for the removal of the attorney-general's prosecution powers and to give this to a separate office of 'director of public prosecutors'.
G25 made the proposal after expressing concern that there may be a conflict of interest, since under the current system, the attorney-general acts as both adviser to the government and as prosecutor.
G25 said it disagreed with Apandi's view that the system is "fine since Merdeka" and that it is a normal Commonwealth practice.
"With respect, surely the learned attorney-general cannot be ignorant of the legal developments that had taken place in developed Commonwealth countries such as England and Wales, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where by statute or by convention the attorney-general ceases to exercise the powers of prosecution.
Enhancing integrity in government
"Such powers (are) being vested in the director of public prosecutions, who exercises such powers independently of the attorney-general.
"In some jurisdictions, the role of the attorney-general regarding prosecutions, if at all, has become merely supervisory in nature," it said.
G25 said these developments were meant to enhance integrity in government by statutorily ensuring the independence of the prosecution decision-making function from inappropriate political control, direction and influence.
"In England and Wales the attorney-general still exercises control on the prosecution of certain serious offences but in the vast majority of cases, the prosecution is carried out by the director of public prosecutions, independently of the attorney-general.
"In India the attorney-general has no powers of prosecution. Such powers are vested in the respective union or state director of prosecutions," it said.