Prosecutors insist graft charges against Muhyiddin by the book

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Prosecutors argued today that the four charges against former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin have all particulars necessary for him to mount a defence.

Firdaus Latif

Today was the hearing for Muhyiddin’s application to quash the four charges against him for allegedly using his position to obtain gratification amounting to RM232.5 million for Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said the inherent power of the courts to strike out the charges cannot be used arbitrarily, noting that such an attempt was tantamount to an abuse of the existing court process.

“Such power can only be used in exceptional and special circumstances.

“If the court does allow the application, this will open the floodgates. The accused himself must convince the court that he has exhausted all remedies and seek the court’s inherent power to put right the situation to avoid a miscarriage of justice,” he said in urging for the court to dismiss the application.

On the defence’s argument that the charges lacked details, Wan Shaharuddin said the prosecution was not obliged to provide the particulars on how the accused committed an offence or abuse their power.

He said this was provided under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, which stated that the element of the offence that must be proven was contained in the charge itself.

“For example, a person is charged with murder under Section 302, in the charge we do not state how you kill but that you killed someone.

“Therefore, the applicant’s argument that the four charges against him are defective due to a lack of particulars does not hold any legal basis since various courts in Malaysia have decided that it is not mandatory to state how the offence was committed,” he said.

Lawyer Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who is representing Muhyiddin, said the four charges proffered against his client were lacking in particulars and therefore defective in nature.

Hisyam said the charges also did not comply with Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), as an accused person has the constitutional right to be informed about the way he allegedly committed an offence.

Citing the charge, Hisyam said all were similarly worded except for their dates, places and amounts.

“The applicant is left to guess and speculate as to how he has allegedly abused his position, if any did the applicant ‘make any decision’ or ‘take any action’ and in relation to ‘what matter’.

“In short the impugned charges are completely vague in that no sufficient notice is given to the applicant,” he said.

Another deputy public prosecutor, Ahmad Akram Gharib, said it was premature to call the charges defective, as they were complete and gave ample notice to Muhyiddin to prepare his defence.

“There were specifics, we gave dates, key date facts and figures to the accused. What else do you want? You should know what you did. There are no defective charges.

Hisyam had earlier argued whether Bersatu can be construed as an “associate” within the definition of the MACC Act, arguing that the Act only makes a clear distinction between “society” and “organisation”.

“Bersatu cannot be an associate, it is a political party registered under the Societies Act,” he said.

In response, Wan Shaharuddin said Bersatu is a political entity formed by individuals with a common purpose and therefore considered an “organisation” as provided under the definition of “associates” under the MACC Act.

He then provided examples of other political parties’ acronyms such as the United Malay National Organisation (Umno), United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) whose namesake included the word “organisation”.

After hearing submissions from parties, High Court judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin then fixed August 15 for the decision.

Last April 18, Muhyiddin filed a notice of motion to request that he be acquitted and discharged of all four charges brought against him, alleging the charges lacked particulars as to how he had abused his position or the Prime Minister’s Office for the purpose of gratification.

Based on the four charges, Muhyiddin as Prime Minister of Malaysia and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president is alleged to have used his position to receive bribes amounting to RM232.5 million from three companies namely Bukhary Equity Sdn Bhd, Nepturis Sdn Bhd and Mamfor Sdn Bhd as well as Datuk Azman Yusoff for the party. – MMO