Zahid’s discharge: Separating the public prosecutor from the attorney general is the only path to redemption!

Zahid Hamidi - WIKIPEDIA

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih) views with grave concern the discharge not amounting to acquittal of Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi of all 47 charges of corruption involving millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi, granted by the High Court today upon the request by deputy public prosecutor Dusuki Mukhtar.

This is unacceptable when the prosecution had successfully established a prima facie case and Zahid must present his defence. The prosecution owes the public an explanation why the request for discharge [was sought] at this stage when a prima facie [case] had been established.

The Attorney General’s Chambers must also reveal what possible new charges or new directions of investigation they are studying against Zahid. If there is no plan for new charges, then this might amount to providing an escape route for Zahid to apply for acquittal within months.

Thus, Bersih calls on the prosecution to review the discharge not amounting to acquittal, the evidence and all 47 charges again and re-charge if necessary.

Bersih wishes to remind and draw precedence from the case of the former intelligence chief Hasanah Ab Hamidi: in August 2022 the High Court granted a full acquittal in her RM50m criminal breach of trust charge, just one year after a discharge not amounting to acquittal.

As the anti-graft and reformist credentials of his Madani (Civil Malaysia) government comes under serious doubt following this decision, Bersih urges Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to announce within this week a clear roadmap and timeline for the separation of public prosecution from the Attorney General’s Chambers.

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As it stands now, the attorney general is a political appointee advising the government who plays the dual role of public prosecutor, who holds the power to initiate or drop criminal charges. This power can be abused or weaponised for political reasons.

The attorney general-public prosecutor separation has been advocated by Bersih and civil society groups, and we have come up with thorough recommendations on how it can be done [1]. The only action left is to implement it.

We also wonder if this is prelude to the dropping of all remaining charges against former Prime Minister Najib Razak, which will all but erode public trust in the Madani government’s reform agenda.

Until the separation is done, the Attorney General’s Chambers must refrain from withdrawing charges in high-profile cases. If the cases are defective, let judges rule on that, not prosecutors who are ultimately under the prime minister’s control. – Bersih

Malaysians are sick of seeing this correlation: Those who stay in power forever stay innocent, while those who lose power also lose their innocence.

The request for discharge not amounting to acquittalDNAA by the Deputy Public Prosecution at this stage of Zahid’s trial strongly reinforces the urgency to separate the PP and AG – nothing less will restore the credibility of the PP – indeed, the whole government – after this decision.

Bersih cautions Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, further delay in AGC reform may greatly damage credibility for the Madani government, which is now associated with this terrible precedence for politically-connected trials. Enough talk, politicians must walk the talk. Reform now before sinking to the point of no return!

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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