Projek Sama urges Attorney General Teriyuddin Mohd Salleh to make public his written opinion on Najib Razak’s partial pardon.
And to issue a written statement that his chambers will pursue the three pending cases against Najib vigorously and diligently.
And that his chambers will not make any applications to the courts for discharge amounting to acquittal or discharge not amounting to acquittal.
And that the chambers will not make any further mistakes which will result in any such discharge.
The first call for making public the attorney general’s written opinion, made by Projek Sama on 31 January, before the formal announcement by the Pardons Board, is now shared by increasing numbers, including G25 and lawyer Goh Cia Yi.
This, our second call for public assurance, is premised on concerns which we explain below.
We are deeply concerned about the role Attorney General Teriyuddin played in the partial pardon of Najib. Not only because of the reductions of the jail term and fine – granted to one who still claims he is innocent of the charges he was found guilty of after due process – but also because of the likelihood that the Attorney General’s Chambers may withdraw the pending charges against Najib, resulting in a discharge amounting to an acquittal or not amounting to an acquittal.
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Our concern is aggravated by the disingenuous comments made by politicians. For example, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim claimed he was not involved and that it was the former Agong’s decision based on compassion and consideration of Najib’s contribution to the nation.
But the minister in charge of the federal territories, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, who sits on the Pardons Board, said it was the board’s collective decision. And Umno supreme council member Lokman Adam effusively thanked Anwar for expediting the consideration of Najib’s appeal by the Pardons Board.
Clearly, there are two standards of mercy: one for political elites, another for commoners.
The judicial concern about a discharge not amounting to an acquittal or amounting to an acquittal has been well explained by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.
In a speech on 15 January, she pointed out that, in compliance with the law, judges have to grant either a discharge not amounting to an acquittal or a discharge amounting to an acquittal when the prosecution applies for or agrees to applications for these grants.
She further observed that “in the recent past,” the attorney general withdrew charges against “certain high-profile individuals”.
She lamented the end result of such grants: she said “judicial independence is eroded”, and “public confidence in the judiciary is impaired”.
She added that “the Judge making the only available consequential orders is painted as corrupt, sometimes as incompetent or sometimes both.”
That is of great concern.
Our call for public assurances by Teriyuddin is further warranted because of his chambers’ track record. Here are two of the most glaring examples:
Teriyuddin made the application to the court which resulted in the discharge not amounting to an acquittal of Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi on 47 charges of corruption, despite a prima facie case having been proved against him.
Najib and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kandasamy were given a discharge amounting to an acquittal in the High Court in the case of alleged tampering of the 1MDB audit report because (a) the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case and (b) subsequently, the prosecution failed to file the required appeal document within the stipulated time, which resulted in the appeal against the discharge being dismissed by the court.
If Terriyuddin is unwilling to make the public assurances we have listed, the public will inevitably conclude that he agrees with Najib’s claim he has suffered injustice at the hands of prosecutors and judges all the way up to the apex court.
If Terriyuddin does agree with Najib, then he should tender his resignation. This is only fair to his ‘clients’, the Malaysian public, who believe no one should be above the law.
If anyone walks free, it must be because they have proved their innocence before the courts. Not by short circuiting the criminal justice system through political negotiations, by having the public prosecutor withdraw charges (resulting in a discharge amounting to an acquittal or not amounting to an acquittal) or by the public prosecutor failing to prosecute expeditiously, professionally and diligently.
We are extremely concerned that in the discharge not amounting to an acquittal for Zahid, in the discharge amounting to acquittal and failure to file appeal documents in time in the case of Najib and Arul Kanda, and now the partial pardon of Najib, justice may have been compromised by the executive which exercises its power through the attorney general whom it appoints.
A public assurance by Terriyuddin, as demanded here, will help quell the flood of public anxiety which has arisen from the outcomes of cases against high-profile individuals.
To stop the rot, the “Madani” (civil and compassionate) government must also expedite the separation of the office of the attorney general and public prosecutor, and free the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission from political interference.
Last but not least, the government must cease from wielding police investigations as a tool for quelling public expressions of anxiety, especially in cases involving high-profile individuals.
We call on the police to immediately stop the harassment of former MP Tony Pua and any other individuals or organisations who have commented on this matter. – Projek Sama