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Breaking silence over Zahid release, Bar slams AG

Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah pans the AGC for attributing the discharge to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Staff Writers
3 minute read
The Attorney-General's Chambers building in Putrajaya.
The Attorney-General's Chambers building in Putrajaya.

The Malaysian Bar broke its silence over the release from corruption charges granted to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last night, slamming the justification put forth by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) for requesting the discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) for the deputy prime minister given on Sept 4. 

Bar president Karen Cheah said the AGC's statement on Sept 5 that High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah had decided based on the "cogent" reasons submitted to the prosecution was "completely devoid of proper justifications as regards why it had requested for a DNAA".

She added that the move had left Sequerah no alternative but to decide on a DNAA or a full acquittal.

"It therefore rings hollow for the AGC to wholly attribute the withdrawal of the case to the High Court and use that as a reason in the media statement, instead of providing a detailed explanation," she said.

The AGC had said that Sequerah was convinced by the arguments submitted by the prosecution.

"In reaching the decision, the judge stated that the reasons submitted by the prosecution were cogent," it said, responding to statements describing the decision as immoral.

Zahid, the Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman, had faced 12 counts of criminal breach of trust, eight of corruption, and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to the charity foundation.

He was given the DNAA after deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, who was appointed just last month to replace Raja Rozela Raja Toran following her sudden "early retirement", informed Sequerah of the AGC's request to discontinue all proceedings against him.

Cheah said there had been cases in the recent past where criminal charges against "certain politicians" were dropped by the AGC mid-trial, reportedly following "instructions" or as a result of representations.

"These cases are classified as 'high-profile cases' as they hold national and public interests primarily due to the substantial sums of money allegedly misappropriated by those individuals in positions of power and authority," she said.

Noting that the first letter of representation was submitted by the defence in December 2022, she said this was more than three years after the case began in the High Court, and after the appointment of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his Cabinet.

She also noted Raja Rozela's reported request for "early retirement" in April, and the move to extend the tenures of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) commissioner and then attorney-general Idrus Harun on May 10 and March 6 respectively. 

"These dates, development of events, and actors in play, fuel much of the uproar by the public," she said.

She likewise criticised the move to discharge Zahid after some 77 days of trial and the establishment of a prima facie case against him, calling it "unpalatable".

"The Malaysian Bar asserts that the AGC tarnished its own reputation and credibility as the prosecuting party, and that of the MACC as the investigating body, when it applied for a DNAA at such a late juncture after a prima facie had already been established by the previous lead DPP," she said, referring to Raja Rozela.

"The Malaysian Bar expects that good sense and justice will prevail, and that this unhealthy trend will not continue unabated – especially in the light of the ongoing 1MDB case, the ongoing trial which former prime minister Najib Razak is facing, and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s second corruption case where she is facing 12 money laundering charges and five counts of failure to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board."