The Malaysian Bar has initiated legal proceedings in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, seeking a judicial review over the attorney general’s decision of 4 September in applying to the court for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal in the case involving 47 charges against Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi.
Having considered at length the facts and circumstances of Zahid’s case, the Malaysian Bar has taken this legal recourse as part of its statutory duty to uphold the cause of justice, uninfluenced by fear or favour.
It cannot be disputed that Zahid’s trial commenced more than four years ago on 18 November 2019, where a prima facie case was established – with 77 days of trial having been conducted, Zahid’s 15th witness giving evidence, and the matter being in the midst of its defence stage on 4 September 2023 – when assertions were made by the attorney general that further investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was needed based on several representations made by Zahid as at December 2022, three years after the case had commenced.
It is the Malaysian Bar’s concerted view that the attorney general’s discretionary powers under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution is not absolute and should be restricted in its scope and limit, exercised in a justiciable manner as determined by the courts under its revisionary powers and inherent jurisdiction in accordance with the law.
Zahid’s case holds national and public interest as it involves grave accusations of criminal breach of trust, bribery and money laundering against an individual in power and authority at the time he was charged – seen in tandem and in the light of the circumstances of the stage of proceedings in the case, vis-à-vis the continuing power he holds at the executive level as at 4 September 2023.
The Malaysian Bar’s position regarding this matter is referred to in our observations made on 7 September.
In this judicial review filed, the Malaysian Bar seeks, among others, the following reliefs:
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- A certiorari to quash the attorney general’s decision of 4 September in applying for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal in Zahid’s case
- A declaration that the attorney general’s decision of 4 September is null and void and/or made in excess of the jurisdictions and/or powers under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 254(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- A declaration that the attorney general’s decision of 4 September is null and void and/or unreasonable and tainted with irrationality
- A mandamus directing the attorney general to furnish the Malaysian Bar with all information, documentation, reasons, basis, and particulars relied upon in arriving at the decision on 4 September to apply for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal of Zahid, including (but not limited to) the letters of representation issued by or on behalf of Zahid
- A mandamus directing the attorney general to provide the Malaysian Bar at regular intervals with all information, documentation, reasons, basis and particulars pertaining to the status of the ongoing and/or further investigations on Zahid which formed part of the reason for arriving at the decision of the attorney general to apply for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, including any decision of the attorney general to recharge, continue trial or discontinue investigations against Zahid Hamidi, and
- The Malaysian Bar be granted access to all matters and/or documents filed in court, including court recordings, orders and judgments
The unsealed copies of the judicial review application, requisite statement and supporting affidavit were served on the attorney general earlier today.
The Malaysian Bar cannot emphasise enough the importance of a judicial review process – which is specifically designed to challenge decisions, actions or omissions of public bodies in the event that checks and balances on the executive and legislative are required, and/or where the basic structure of our Federal Constitution is called into question for proper interpretation – in the interest of our democracy.
Karen Cheah Yee Lynn is president of the Malaysian Bar
This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.