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Malaysia appoints first woman attorney general.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec. 19 Kyodo

Malaysia Securities Commission's Deputy Chief Executive Ainum Mohamed Saaid has been appointed the new attorney general effective Jan. 1, the first woman to assume the post, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement Tuesday.

King Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, on the advice of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has consented to her appointment for a two-year term, the statement said.

Ainum, 54, will take over from Mohtar Abdullah, whose term expires Dec. 31.

The attorney general's post, especially under Mohtar, has been riddled with controversy amid criticism of selective prosecution in cases involving high-profile politicians.

The Malaysian legal and judicial systems came under unprecedented scrutiny both domestically and internationally with the renowned trials of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar accused the court and the attorney general of conspiring with Mahathir to bring him down with trumped-up charges.

Anwar is now serving a 15-year jail term for corruption and sodomy.

The international judicial and legal community have pronounced that there is ''cause for concern'' over Malaysia's judicial system.

But the recent appointment of the reform-minded Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah as the country's top judge, and this appointment of Ainum, with her no-nonsense reputation, as attorney general, are encouraging to critics of the government.

Commenting on Ainum's appointment, Sulaiman Abdullah, president of the Bar Council, told Kyodo News, ''The government would now have a very good top legal adviser...She is one who speaks her mind and does not take any nonsense from anybody.''

Sulaiman, who represented Anwar in his corruption trial, has known Ainum for 34 years and they are friends from university.

''We just hope that the government would give her the space to act freely especially with regards to her prosecution power,'' he said.

Ainum was with the Attorney General's Chambers for 26 years until 1996, when she left to join the Securities Commission.

As the commission's deputy chief executive, a post she assumed in 1999, she was in charge of market supervision and enforcement of the commission's rules and regulations.

Her last duty at the chambers was as parliamentary draftsman, the third highest ranking post in the chambers after the attorney general and the solicitor general.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Dec 25, 2000
Words:365
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