Attorney-general (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali has been told not to "threaten" Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for addressing the public on his court case.
Lim's lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said as chief minister, Lim had a right to explain his stand to the public.
"He is the chief minister of Penang and there is a need for him to explain to people why it is he claimed trial to those charges and why it is he claims innocence.
"I call upon the AG to stop threatening my client, failing which I will not hesitate to move contempt proceedings against him in the Penang High Court," said Gobind in a statement today.
Noting that Apandi said that he had cautioned Lim through his lawyers, Gobind refuted the matter.
“I challenge him to produce evidence to this effect. I have not spoken to him since the day my client was charged and at no time has he ever raised any concerns with me personally over the matter until now in the press,” said Gobind.
He reminded Apandi to conduct himself as befits his role and office.
“He must remember that his role is now as public prosecutor conducting the case before the High Court and I lead the defence team for the chief minister.
“There are rules which apply at the bar. If you have a problem, you should raise it with counsel on the other side and if there are disagreements, then there are ways by which those issues can be properly dealt with,” reasoned the legal practitioner.
He added that the charges had been read out in open court and widely reported in the media.
"I take the view that every accused person is entitled to explain his position in response to charges against him.
"It would be absurd to suggest that the public prosecutor can prefer charges against anyone, but they cannot say anything in response except and until their day in court," said Gobind (photo), who is Puchong MP.
Apandi today issued a "final warning" to Lim to stop commenting on the corruption charges that he is currently facing.
This is apparently over comments made at a press conference yesterday in which Lim criticised the AG.
'Most prosecutors are professionals'
Meanwhile, Lawyer Syahredzan Johan concurred with Gobind that such threats against an accused may be a conduct unbecoming.
"I have never seen a prosecutor issue this sort of threat before. And this is because most other prosecutors are professionals. Even Tan Sri Gani Patail, with all the political statements made against him, never issued this sort of threat," said the lawyer in a Facebook post today.
He argued that an AG is supposed to act professionally at all times.
"You have to be above the political fray. It may mean that you cannot say anything when people make political statements against you, but that comes with the job.
"When you are the prosecutor in a case, you should stick to the case when you speak outside of court and let the evidence speaks for itself inside court. You do not make threats to the accused," he said.
Syahredzan opined that by making this threat, the AG may have created the impression that he is not interested in prosecuting the case fairly and not averse to a trial by the court of public opinion.
He contend that it may as well be a free for all in the media since the accused may not have a fair trial when threats are made in the media by the lead prosecutor like this.