In his special televised address to the nation today, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin revealed that there were attempts by certain quarters to pressure him into meddling with the judiciary, with a view of having their criminal charges dropped. He did not reveal who those people were except that they were uncomfortable with his firmness in not entertaining their demands.
His revelations are shocking because they only confirm what was previously only spoken in hushed tones or as the subject of speculation. While Muhyiddin did not identify the perpetrators, it is safe to assume that this could be linked to the attempted bid to oust him as PM led by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Of the 11 Umno MPs who withdrew their support for Muhyiddin yesterday, four of them face criminal charges. It is unclear if they have anything to do with the alleged attempt at judiciary interference.
But the implications are serious. Trying to pressure the most powerful man in the country to influence the judicial process in criminal proceedings is in itself a damning charge. And to subvert the parliamentary process while doing so undermines the democratic foundations which this country is built on.
If true, this is being perpetrated by individuals who were once at the peak of Malaysia’s political structure. What kind of message are we sending to Malaysians if we do nothing about this? Can we afford to just fold our arms and let people who are afraid of the four walls of prison cells ride roughshod over the sanctity of law and justice?
I am glad that the PM has resisted the temptation to blur the line between the executive and the judiciary, although this comes at a huge political cost to him. A former PM probably wouldn’t have hesitated to do so, given his running battles with judges, including removing top ones.
But this shouldn’t end here. Given the gravity of Muhyiddin’s claims and the seniority of the possible perpetrators, nothing short of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) will do justice if we want to get to the bottom of this heinous act.
I call on the government to immediately set up an RCI to investigate this matter. This is to prevent the perpetrators from stepping up pressure on the executive in the run-up to the vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat next month.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.