The Malaysian judiciary delivered justice and advanced the rule of law on 23 August, when the Federal Court upheld former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s conviction and 12-year jail sentence for corruption in the SRC international trial, restoring public trust in that no one is above the law in our land.
Agora Society commends the judiciary for maintaining its independence and integrity throughout the process, from the High Court to the Court of Appeal to the Federal Court, even though the case had spanned over four years under enormous pressure and attention from the public and the political parties, as well as the global community.
To curb rampant corruption plaguing our country, justice must be served and seen to be served equally. It is our hope that the courts will continue to serve as an essential check on the other branches of government in all cases without favour, including 1MDB, the littoral combat ships, Yayasan Akalbudi and the foreign visa system (both of which implicate Zahid Hamidi), the Penang undersea tunnel project and Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd (both of which implicate Lim Guan Eng).
If new evidence emerges for the corruption cases and financial scandals in the past, we hope the public prosecution team would also take action to bring the culprits to justice.
On a different note, Agora Society is aware that the Federal Court has unprecedentedly rejected the dismissal of the legal team by the defendant in this case. We hope that this discretion is exercised with the utmost caution as it may have negative implications on individuals’ autonomy under the law generally. Nevertheless, given the extensiveness of the trials that spanned over four years – the number of witnesses summoned, evidence exhibited, court sessions held, and the ample opportunity given to the defendant to discharge and rehire his legal teams, we believe that the court has ultimately run a fair trial.
Once again, Agora Society is glad to see that the court has upheld its integrity and independence in the trial – two essential qualities which have been widely questioned since the judicial crisis in 1988.
We would like to urge the other branches alike to play their essential roles in fighting corruption.
We urge the executive branch to enforce laws fairly and equally, without fear or favour.
We also would like to urge Parliament and all politicians who claim to be serious about the rule of law to rescind the amendments devised by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Barisan Nasional regime that resulted in the judicial crisis in 1988 and restore the independence of our judicial branch as part of the main objective of judiciary reform. – Agora Society