THE Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) has expressed its concern that certain quarters have backed calls for UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to be considered for the deputy prime minister (DPM) post in the present government.
The electoral watchdog’s steering committee said it strongly objects to the appointment of any individuals who have ongoing criminal cases against them to any cabinet position as it can undermine the public trust in both the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and the judiciary.
“Zahid is still on trial for 47 charges of criminal breach of trust involving the Yayasan Akalbudi case,” it said in a statement.
“Even though he has been acquitted on 40 corruption charges on the VLN visa scheme by the High Court on Sept 22, the prosecution has filed an appeal on the case.”
Similarly, it said that other elected representatives with ongoing corruption cases such as DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng, MUDA president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin should also not be appointed to the Cabinet.
“Not until after their cases have been fully disposed of by the courts without any interference from the executive through the Attorney-General Chambers,” Bersih stressed.
In saying this, the electoral watchdog reiterated the urgent need to reform the AGC by transferring its powers to prosecute to an independent Public Prosecution Office in order to take a neutral position on all ongoing cases.
“As an immediate measure, the prosecution role should be temporarily transferred to the solicitor-general, the apolitical number two of the AGC,” it pointed out.
“This is to take a neutral position on all ongoing cases, especially those involving politicians.
“The handling of these cases should not be used as bargaining chips for the formation of a government or the cabinet.”
Earlier today, Malaysia’s “Iron Lady” and former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz had similarly urged newly-minted prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to avoid appointing those with pending court cases as Cabinet members.
This is because such appointments would only bring negative publicity to the current unity government, adding that there were more credible politicians that Anwar could choose from.
Yesterday Anwar stressed that the appointment of Cabinet members would not be a reward for those who supported the formation of his government.
He also reiterated that the three main component coalitions – Pakatan Harapan (PH), BN and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) – would be consulted over the appointments while pledging to stick to his promise to reduce both Cabinet numbers and salaries.
He also said that the new government frontline will have to abide by anti-corruption commitments and prioritise national economic development. – Nov 28, 2022
Main pic credit: Malay Mail