I THINK that the Shah Alam High Court judge Datuk Yazid Mustafa who acquitted former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamid did the right thing of comparing it with the corruption case of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
Before acquitting Zahid on the 40 charges of receiving corrupt money in relation to the foreign visa system (VLN) case, the judge merely pointed out that the nature of evidence presented in the case against Rosmah was far more superior.
Essentially, the evidence presented against the wife of incarcerated former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak met the litmus test of linking both the receiver and the giver of corrupt money.
There was clear and incontrovertible evidence that Rosmah was the recipient of corrupt money in relation to a solar energy project.
This was the kind of evidence that Yazid might have looked into Zahid’s case, but was lacking. And this was the precise reason why the nature of evidence adduced against Rosmah was brought to bear on the corruption charges against Zahid.
Don’t be overjoyed
The evidence that was presented did not give any indication that Zahid was the recipient of corrupt money. The crucial and fundamental link necessary to establish the guilt was not there. As Yazid had pointed out, the witnesses were also unreliable.
While Yazid might have done the correct thing by acquitting Zahid, it is not that the latter can proclaim to the whole world that he is innocent. He should not forget there are two more judicial layers to go thorough before he can be found guilty or not guilty.
I understand that the Attorney-General (AG) has appealed the case to the Court of Appeal, ostensibly on the grounds that the matter needs to be re-considered.
The AG is also aware of the public outcry in the acquittal of Zahid and not to speak of the shoddy work by the prosecution team. Hopefully, this is not a mere public relations exercise to appease the public for some time.
While the deputy public prosecutors (DPPs) were exceptional in their prosecution against Najib and Rosmah, I don’t understand why the evidence presented against Zahid was circumstantial lacking the rigor to establish the crucial link between the receiver and those who gave.
Clear cut weakness
It is without doubt that the prosecution failed to marshal strong evidence to convict Zahid. Mind you, he is still going for trial on other charges related to money laundering and receiving corrupt money.
It is wrong for Rosmah’s defence lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader to say that the judge should not have brought the Rosmah’s matter in acquitting Zahid because the former has appealed the decision of the high court.
He might have a point but that should not have detracted Yazid or others from using the example of Rosmah’s conviction to illustrate the rigorous manner in which evidence was presented by the prosecution.
Perhaps in the future, the conviction of Najib and Rosmah might become legal precedents in how the prosecution should conduct themselves. DPPs are civil servants paid from the taxpayers’ money with the high public expectation that they will do a thorough job in prosecuting those who are corrupt.
The country has lost a trillion ringgit due to the widespread nature of corruption especially those in high places.
I differ with the argument of Rosmah’s defence lawyers that while she appealed against her conviction, it was perfectly alright for Yazid to have used the Rosmah’s case to illustrate the manner in which evidence was presented.
The point that Rosmah has appealed is not a big issue for not bringing to attention as to the reasons why she was convicted. – Sept 29, 2022
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyman for Perai. He is also Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: Reuters