MALAYSIA: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Malaysian Prime Minister has been cleared of all four allegations of abuse of power in the Jana Wibawa case in the High Court on Tuesday (15 Aug).
The High Court judge, Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin, dismissed the case, declaring that all four accusations were flawed and made in bad faith.
“The four charges did not disclose an offence under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act and Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) which calls for an extraordinary circumstance compelling me to use the court’s inherent powers.”
“This is to prevent an abuse of the court process. I am therefore allowing for the four charges to be struck out and the applicant is acquitted and released,” the high court judge said.
In his verdict, Muhammad Jamil opposed the prosecutors’ contention that the specifics of the offense’s execution need not be revealed in the charges but could instead be established through courtroom testimonies.
“This will surely bring about injustice to the applicant who is uninformed of the true nature of the offense committed and therefore incapacitating them of an effective defense before trial commences.”
“The unmentioned particulars render the charges vague and the applicant confused since he has no idea what matter concerning his decision or action he had taken (in committing the offence).”
“The applicant should not be allowed to speculate and prejudiced when he is not informed of their true nature,” he said.
The judge proclaimed that subjecting the former Prime Minister to a criminal proceeding that blatantly contravened the law would amount to a misuse of the legal process if the trial were to proceed based on flawed charges.
He further contended that Muhyiddin’s entitlement to a fair trial under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution was compromised during the process due to the defective charges leveled against him.
Muhyiddin’s defense attorney, Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, underscored the glaring deficiencies in the charges against his client and expressed appreciation to the judge for acknowledging their arguments.
He also noted that the other three charges related to money laundering would not stand independently and would be similarly dismissed, as they relied on predicate offenses that were nullified on Tuesday.
Muhyiddin claims charges were “politically motivated”
Speaking to the media at the Kuala Lumpur court complex lobby, Muhyiddin Muhyiddin expressed a sense of vindication following the High Court’s decision to absolve him of four abuse of power charges.
Muhyiddin emphasized that the allegations brought against him were driven by political motives right from the outset.
He maintained his stance that he had not engaged in any unlawful activities under the legal framework.
“I am thankful for what the judge has decided and I want to put on record that we will work hard to tell the public of the attempts by certain parties to smear me after it has been proven today (15 Aug) that the false allegations against me are therefore untrue and in violation of any existing law for them to be tried.”
“This is an abuse of court process by certain responsible parties as I have been informed this is unusual for similar cases tried in court,” Muhyiddin said.
Prosecutors to challenge court’s verdict
As reported by Malay Mail, the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has officially announced its intention to contest the High Court’s verdict that led to the acquittal of Muhyiddin from the four abuse of power charges.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin stated that they have received directives to initiate an appeal later on Tuesday.
Furthermore, they plan to request a suspension of proceedings regarding Muhyiddin’s three outstanding money laundering charges at the Sessions Court while the appeal process unfolds.
Muhyiddin slapped with six counts of abuse of power, money laundering charges in connection to Covid fund misuse in March 2023
In March 2023, the Malaysian 8th Prime Minister faced charges on four separate occasions for allegedly exploiting his position as both the Prime Minister and the President of Bersatu.
He was accused of soliciting a total of 232.5 million ringgit ($51.4 million) bribe from Bukhary Equity Sdn Bhd at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex in the Federal Government Administrative Centre, Putrajaya.
These incidents are said to have occurred between 8 to 25 February 2021.
These charges were formulated under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.
This section carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison or a fine equivalent to five times the value of the money requested, or RM10,000, whichever is greater.
Additionally, he faced accusations on two counts of accepting RM195 million in funds, alleged to be proceeds from illegal activities.
These incidents were said to have taken place between 25 February and 16 July 2021, as well as between 8 February and 8 July of the previous year.
In April this year, Muhyiddin filed a notice of motion to request that he be acquitted and discharged of all four charges brought against him, alleging the charges lacked particulars as to how he had abused his position or the Prime Minister’s Office for the purpose of gratification.
Muhyiddin has three remaining criminal charges under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act that are pending at the Sessions Court.
From Najib’s right-hand man to Malaysia’s 8th PM
From 2009 to 2015, Muhyiddin served as Najib Razak’s right hand man, but was terminated from his position in 2015 after criticizing the government’s handling of the 1MDB scandal.
He then joined a party established by former premier Mahathir Mohamad and helped to overthrow Najib and his party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
Following the “Sheraton Move” in 2020, Muhyiddin led BERSATU departed from the Pakatan Harapan(PH) coalition and joined forces with Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS to form a new government coalition, which appointed him as 8th Prime Minister.
Muhyiddin held the position for 17 months, from 2020 to 2021, during which his government introduced the Jana Wibawa program as a Covid-19 stimulus measure to assist Bumiputera contractors.
Incumbent Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim accused the former government led by Muhyiddin of improperly disbursing billions of dollars in Covid relief funds.