MALAYSIA: A coalition of 49 civil society organizations, including the prominent electoral watchdog BERSIH, has expressed deep concern regarding the potential exoneration of former Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, in ongoing corruption cases.
In a joint statement released on Thursday (5 Oct), these organizations called for a temporary halt to applications for Discharge Not Amounting to Acquittal (DNAA) or complete acquittals in cases involving politicians.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) and the signatory civil society groups have appealed to Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Attorney-General (AG) Ahmad Terrirudin to allow the judicial process to proceed without the AG exercising discretionary power under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution to terminate court proceedings.
The recent DNAA granted to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in his Yayasan Akalbudi case on September 4th has raised concerns about the AG’s discretionary authority, as the AG also serves as the Public Prosecutor (PP) under current law.
The statement underscored that this move, along with other instances of DNAA or complete acquittals in corruption cases involving politicians, often following political changes, has led to concerns that one’s innocence is tied to political influence.
“This cannot go on. The AG should not double up as the PP and reforms to separate the role of the PP from the AG must happen so that the PP is an independent office that is free from political interference.”
Public concerns grow over the fate of Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor in ongoing 1MDB cases
The potential for Najib Razak’s remaining three cases related to 1MDB and income tax, as well as Rosmah Mansor’s RM7.1 million money laundering and tax evasion case, to face similar outcomes, has raised alarms among the Malaysian public.
“Will the former PM and his wife be similarly released from their corruption charges, and in the case of Najib, to pave the way for his pardon in the SRC case?”
The joint statement warned that if Najib and Rosmah are released from corruption charges, it could have detrimental consequences, damaging Malaysia’s rule of law and deterring global investors.
The joint statement also recalls the historical context of the 1MDB scandal and its exposure, which led to widespread protests and the eventual change in government at GE14 in 2018.
“Malaysians across the political spectrum continued to reject corruption in GE15 as the two main coalitions that campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN), won 68% of votes combined. ”
“Anwar Ibrahim and PH owe their power to the public wrath against corruption.”
The signatory organizations expect strong political will from Anwar Ibrahim to combat systemic corruption and uphold the rule of law. They insist on fair and unbiased trials for Najib, Zahid, and other politicians facing corruption charges.
Civil society organizations urge Malaysia’s leadership to implement key measures to ensure justice
The statement called for Prime Minister Anwar and AG Ahmad Terrirudin to publicly commit to four key demands:
- To impose a moratorium on any application by the AG for DNAA or total acquittal for all ongoing high-profile cases involving politicians or those closely connected with them, in particular, but not limited to Najib and Rosmah’s cases, until the Attorney General-Public Prosecutor (AG-PP) separation has taken place. Non-interference in criminal justice requires such a moratorium to rule out selective impunity.
- To expedite and declare the end of 2024 as the timeline for the AG-PP separation that has been announced by Law Minister Azalina Othman Said on 18 September 2023. This reform is crucial to protect the integrity of the legal institution from political influence and to uphold the rule of law.
- To reopen or recharge DNAA cases of politicians charged with corruption, in particular but not limited to Zahid’s Yayasan Akalbudi case. The Court must be allowed to determine the guilt or innocence of those charged based on evidence presented.
- To not withdraw or undermine all ongoing appeals by letting appeal opportunities to lapse as in the case of Najib-Arul Kanda’s 1MDB report tampering. The appeal against Zahid’s Foreign Visa System (VLC) case which carried 40 charges of bribery must not be terminated or thrown out conveniently on some technical grounds by the AG.
“Our request and the expectation of the Malaysian public is simple – we want the rule of law, as it is necessary for political stability that would enable the Unity Government of Anwar Ibrahim to go full-term.”
They believe that failure to uphold these principles could have severe political and economic consequences, jeopardizing Malaysia’s progress and the aspirations of its citizens.
In light of these concerns, BERSIH has launched an online petition to rally public support for the four demands aimed at upholding the rule of law and ensuring fair and complete trials for politicians facing corruption charges.
Interested individuals can sign the petition and promote the cause via the following link: https://chng.it/ZdvrfkrQBx
The joint statement was issued by a coalition of civil society organizations, and the following organizations were signatories to the statement:
- BERSIH (The Coalitions for Clean and Fair Elections)
- ABIM (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia)
- Agora (Agora Society Malaysia)
- ALIRAN (Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara)
- AWAM (All Women’s Action Society Malaysia)
- Borneo Komrad
- CAGED (Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances)
- Cahaya Society
- Demokrat UKM
- Demokrat UM
- EMPOWER (Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor)
- G25 (G25 Malaysia)
- GBM (Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia)
- GERAK (Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia)
- Global Bersih
- Growing Emerging Leaders
- HAKAM (The National Human Rights Society)
- IDEAS (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs)
- IKRAM (Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia)
- Imagined Malaysia
- KLSCAH (Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall)
- KMU (Komuniti Muslim Universal Malaysia)
- Lawyer Kamek
- LLG Cultural Development Centre
- MAJU (Malaysian Action For Justice And Unity)
- MoCS (Movement for Change, Sarawak)
- PATRIOT (Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan)
- Pertubuhan Amal Kita Kinta Perak
- Pertubuhan Suara Anak Sabah
- POWER (Pergerakan Orang Wanita. Empowerment and Revolution)
- PROHAM (Society for Promotion of Human Rights (Proham)
- Pusat KOMAS
- ROSE (Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat)
- Sabah Human Rights Centre
- SABM (Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia)
- SERATA (Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All Sabah)
- SIS (Sister in Islam)
- Suara Mahasiswa UMS
- Suara Siswa Universiti Malaya
- SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia)
- Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
- Tindak Malaysia
- UMANY (University of Malaya Association of New Youth)
- Undi Sabah
- UNDI18 (Persatuan Pengundi Muda)
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