CAN Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim by answering questions and queries in Parliament on the DNAA (discharge not amounting to acquittal) granted to UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi finally put an end to the controversial episode?
Anwar had spoken on this issue a few times by claiming that he never interfered in the judicial process.
In fact, he said in Singapore that the 47 charges were withdrawn with a DNAA because the former attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun was of the opinion that Zahid was a victim of political persecution under former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Zahid was prosecuted on the charges of corruption and money laundering of the funds belonging to his foundation Yayasan Akalbudi.
If only Zahid has disbanded UMNO as instructed by Dr Mahathir, he would not have been prosecuted. This was the basis why Idrus withdrew the charges against Zahid in the form of a DNAA.
Anwar’s defence was that the DNAA was the sole doing of Idrus predicated on the discretionary powers of the AG. Anwar has maintained his stand that he had nothing to do with the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court that relied upon the advice of Idrus.
Beyond political persecution
Whether the prosecution under the new AG will appeal the case against Zahid on the grounds of new evidence remains to be seen.
However, some analysts have argued that the DNAA in favour of Zahid had nothing to do with political prosecution under Dr Mahathir but more to do with the fate of the unity government if Zahid was prosecuted.
In fact, the High Court had earlier declared that there was a prima facie case against Zahid.
The testimony of hundreds of witnesses, time spent on the case by both the prosecution and defence and not speak of the sheer wastage of public funds have raised fundamental questions of the role of the AG and the public prosecutor.
Some supporters of the present government rather than focusing on the matter of Zahid’s controversial DNNA have sought to raise the role of separation of powers and the need to separate the functions of the AG and the public prosecutor.
If political persecution was the reason for the DNAA, then the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) must be prepared to even question the charges and the subsequent prosecution and conviction of former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
It is not that Najib’s defence lawyers have not advanced the argument of political persecution of Najib by Dr Mahathir. It is not about one charge against Zahid but 47 that were painstakingly prepared by the prosecution.
I am not sure what reasons other than those already given by Anwar might be brought up in Parliament to exonerate Zahid.
I am not sure that additional reasons to egregiously exonerate Zahid might be palatable to the public. Irreparable damage has been done to the country’s legal and judicial system.
Short of further prosecution against Zahid, nothing else can endear the present government to the general public.
The unity or Madani government was ushered as a reformist government after the last general elections in November 2022. There was hope that reforms would be the main focus of the government.
However, the government has been hardly in power for 10 months yet there are already tell-tale signs of inertia and sluggishness.
The impression given is such that what matters most to the government is to stay in power immaterial of the political costs.
The much talked about reforms to rejuvenate the system seems fast disappearing in the horizon. It is clear that without removing the Albatross around the neck of the government, reforms are good as dead.
Guess who is the Albatross? – Sept 19, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.