By sweeping corruption under the rug, the Madani govt has “reformatted” reforms

I DON’T think there was judicial interference by the executive or the government in deciding the outcome of the 47 charges levelled against UMNO president and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The decision to drop the charges against Zahid by discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) was the work of the attorney-general, perhaps the former, but whether he was advised to change the lead prosecutor or not remains to be seen.

Whether the changing of the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) at the last minute gravitated towards the decision of DNAA also needs to be examined.

I agree with Malaysian Bar Council president Karen Cheah that the High Court judge is not to be blamed especially when the DPP had presented to the judge the need to discharge the charges against Zahid.

It was a kind of fait accompli that the judge had to comply especially when it came from the prosecutor of the office of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

The case received much attention because earlier the judge had acknowledged on the basis of the prosecution’s advice there was a prima facie case against Zahid.

Of course, it never occurred to sensible minds that the prosecution would make an about turn to go for the DNAA.

It might even have caused a stir in the judicial circles. Such a decision could have caused an irreparable damage to the judiciary that slowly and surely emerged after years of domination of the executive especially during the authoritarian former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim rightfully denied the government’s interfere in the judiciary. Here we are not talking about the judiciary but the AG who was solely responsible for discharging Zahid not on one charge but all 47 charges of misappropriating funds from his Yayasan Akalbudi.

Anwar should not bark up the wrong tree but concede the fact that the AG must be solely responsible for discharging the charges against Zahid.

If the AG was responsible, the next question that needs to be asked is who then gave the orders for the DNAA?

The term “discharge not amounting to acquittal” means the Zahid can be hauled up again provided the MACC has acquired further evidence.

But in the Malaysian politically-charged atmosphere of zero-sum game, “not amounting to acquittal” means that matter might not come up at all.

It is not Zahid’s case alone, there are many politicians who escaped the law by the verdict of DNAA.

There are loud calls for the government to seriously think of separating the functions of the AG and the public prosecutor.

Some countries have done this; it is perfectly possible for this to be done in Malaysia.

The nefarious practice of DNAA has caused a crisis of legitimacy in the country. While the rich, powerful and those well connected are getting away from serious crime, the poor and the unfortunate are subject to severe penalty for petty crimes such as stealing food from the supermarket, bribing policemen and others.

Who said that everybody is equal before the law?

Zahid’s discharge might have highlighted the serious problem of the dysfunctional nature of the AGC, but there have been criminal cases of politicians on both side of the divide who have escaped criminal prosecution because of their political positions.

Zahid’s discharge can be debated for a long time. The government expects that the matter will be forgotten after people get tired of the matter.

Whatever may be said, the Madani government cannot deny the irreparable damage done in discharging Zahid.

This regrettable black episode in the country invariably puts an end to the long empty talk of reforms and changes.

There are no reforms, no changes for the better; it is merely the same old government under a new name.

Can we just say that the reforms have been blatantly “reformatted” to meet the narrow needs of political expediency? – Sept 8, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main pic credit: Malay Mail

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE