Zahid’s imbroglio: Unity government owes law-abiding Malaysians an explanation

WHAT is the point of us beating our chests to say we are against corruption when the reformist government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stands as witness to the prosecution allowing Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to be accorded a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) by the High Court?

Zahid (main pic, third from right) was charged on 47 counts of money laundering, criminal breach of trust, corruption and others of the money belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

It will be difficult for the public to accept this discharge when the court had earlier established that Zahid had a prima facie case to answer for.

It was left to the defence to establish the innocence of Zahid. But all of sudden, the prosecution decided to give Zahid the DNAA on the grounds that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is still investigating the matter.

In other words, Zahid might still be hauled up to the court if the MACC can establish incriminating evidence against Zahid.

Permanently a free man?

I have my doubts that Zahid will be brought to the court again. It was certainly a big unprecedented jump from declaring the case as prima facie and then a complete U-turn to DNAA.

Strangely enough before the court gave Zahid the DNAA, the deputy public prosecutor was replaced by another. Has the DPP’s replacement paved the way for the DNAA against Zahid?

We will never what really transpired before the court gave the DNAA verdict. All that we know is that UMNO’s support for the Mandani government is very crucial to stay in power.

Without UMNO coming to the assistance of PH coalition, the unity government might not have been formed with the support of political coalitions in Sabah and Sarawak.

However, this political support need not be reciprocated in other areas. There is widespread feeling in the country that Zahid’s DNAA might have something to do with UMNO’s crucial support for the government of Anwar.

Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi fielding questions from the media after he was accorded a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) by the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday (Sept 4)

This is not to say that there was judicial interference but the events surrounding the discharge of Zahid is rather murky.

Whatever can be said about the discharge of Zahid, the most affected party is none other than unity government in general and Anwar in particular. Surely and undeniably, the biggest loser is the unity government. The reformist agenda has surely obtained a major beating from the court’s verdict on Zahid.

From now on, it would be difficult for Anwar to go on the crusade of bringing about reforms given the political quagmire of the Zahid’s matter.

Deafening silence

Meanwhile, there is deafening silence from the component political parties of the unity government particularly the DAP and PKR.

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy (Pic credit: New Straits Times)

The DAP, a party that was once vociferous about corruption and other wrongdoings in the country, has kept a deadly silence on the court’s discharge of Zahid.

Perhaps for these component parties, reforms and good governance are only applicable when they are in the opposition but not when they are in the government.

The court verdict on Zahid is matter of national importance. It comes at a time when the political forces of the government and opposition are locked in a battle for the hearts and minds of Malaysians.

This is not to mention the two by-elections in the state of Johor. The court’s DNAA on Zahid will be hotly debated. It might provide the crucial ammunition for the opposition to paint an unsavoury picture of the unity government.

The unity government of Anwar that came to power with so much promise predicated on reforms for national unity seems to be dragged down by Zahid’s imbroglio.

Whether Zahid’s court matter was decided on merits or by other considerations is difficult to say. But unfortunately in the court of public opinion, the government has a case to answer for.

There is thinking in the public that matters of national importance cannot be reduced to the needs of political expediency. Whether there are merits in the court’s discharge of Zahid remains to be seen. – Sept 5, 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.

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