Tuesday 26 Sep 2023
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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 6): As Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had his 47 charges withdrawn on Monday (Sept 4), and the Attorney General Chambers reasoned for its decision, there are still many politicians, including a former Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission director, who have criticised the decision of the prosecution.

Former MACC operations division director Datuk Bahri Md Zin — whose division played a key role in investigating former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case — described the situation as crazy.

“The MACC played a role in finding and gathering evidence, and it is proven [that] there is a prima facie case or case to answer for, and [the] defence had been called; all of a sudden, the prosecution has been withdrawn,” he told The Edge.

Using an analogy in football, Bahri said it is as if the prosecution has been awarded a penalty in the final minutes of a match by the referee for them to win, but the spectator is shocked to see that they did not take the kick but chose to leave the field before the game ends.

“This is how it seems to the public,” he said.

The Attorney General Chambers in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 5) evening said the request for Ahmad Zahid’s discharge in the Yayasan Akalbudi trial was deemed “cogent” by the High Court and has “already been accepted by the court”.

“When making the ruling, the honourable judge stated that the arguments presented by the prosecution are cogent,” the statement said.

There have been various criticisms in the decision by the prosecution to withdraw the 47 criminal breach of trust, graft and money laundering charges involving Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation the present deputy prime minister founded, when the defence had already been called, with Ahmad Zahid having testified with 14 other defence witnesses.

As a result of the action, the Court of Appeal judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, as the trial judge, ordered a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on request by the prosecution and dismissed the defence application for a full acquittal.

A DNAA means while the accused person is free from the criminal charges, there is a remote possibility that he/she can be charged again and tried for the same offence.

Politicians, lawyers and activists react with poems, video logs

Following the decision, politicians, lawyers and activists greeted the decision with dismay, and some responded with a poem, tweet, video log and comments.

PKR’s Pasir Gudang member of Parliament Hassan Abdul Karim crafted a poem called ‘DNAA’ on his Facebook, in which he described Monday as the saddest day in his life and questioned whether his own party known for calling for reforms is sacrificing this ideal for the sake of power.

Former MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya, who was responsible for charging Ahmad Zahid during her tenure and is now back as a lawyer, described in a tweet, the decision by the prosecution as shameful.

“How can this ever be justified? Prima facie case was established. What does this say to our MACC officers who dedicate their lives to fighting corruption? What message is this government sending out?” Latheefa had said.

Former Bar Council president and former Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan tweeted that the government should justify the Attorney General Chambers’ decision in withdrawing the charges, describing Monday’s action as a waste of public funds in proving a prima facie case and a waste of all the hard work of members of the Attorney General Chambers.

Even Bersih 2.0 has renewed calls for a separation in the office of the attorney-general and the public prosecutor, in which the attorney-general is wearing both hats.

Lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla recorded a video response to the DNAA, in which he said the court should not be faulted in the decision to withdraw the charges.

“The public should not point their finger in faulting the court for the discharge in the charges, as the one responsible is the public prosecutor or the AG Chambers. This comes after the court was satisfied that the prosecution had proven a prima facie case.

“As there is a decision for prima facie and Ahmad Zahid had entered defence for the past one year and eight months, the prosecution should have let the trial continue and not decide on the representation. Let his defence team continue to create doubts at the defence stage and the court make its decision on guilt or otherwise, even to claims of political persecution as alleged, as cross-examination on him (Ahmad Zahid) has been done,” he added.

The decision on Ahmad Zahid was done just when Tan Sri Idrus Harun’s contract expired on Sept 5 and newly appointed Attorney General Datuk Seri Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh takes over the post on Wednesday (Sept 6).

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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