Anwar: Calls for Zahid case to proceed is asking me to abuse my power

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Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he understands criticisms against the discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) granted to Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

However, he stressed that calls for the case to proceed are tantamount to asking him to abuse his power.

The Pakatan Harapan chairperson was commenting on Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s threat that his party would withdraw support for the coalition government if no detailed explanation is given on the matter.

“I want to stress that it is the MACC or the police who investigate, the attorney-general prosecutes, and the judge decides.”

Anwar reiterated that it was the attorney-general who decided to grant a DNAA to Zahid in the Yayasan Akalbudi corruption case.

He said former AG Idrus Harun did so after the latter read Zahid’s representation letter to the AGC over the case.

“He (former AG) was in favour of continuing the charges, but later, he read the new facts presented in the 200-plus-page representation (sent by Zahid’s lawyers).

“As the prime minister, I was aware of the repercussions (of the DNAA), and I had to discuss in length with the AG the reasons and the timing behind the move,” Anwar said.

Given a choice, Anwar said, he would have preferred the decision to be made at a later time, especially after the Johor twin by-elections tomorrow and the Pelangai by-election next month.

However, the prime minister revealed that Idrus was adamant about wrapping up the case before he went on leave prior to retirement.

“He (Idrus) was merely carrying out his responsibility. He didn’t want to leave his duty to anyone else,” Anwar added.

Elaborating, the premier said he was aware of the backlash against Zahid’s DNAA but urged critics to read the 11 reasons cited by the prosecutor in proposing the withdrawal.

“The process is such. It’s unfair to persecute someone just because we like or don’t like a certain politician.

Nur Aisyah Mazalan/NST

“As I have stressed before, all cases are different. A lot of cases (accused) have walked free, even before trial, or after,” Anwar said, urging the people not to fall for incitement perpetuated by certain politicians.

On Tuesday, Anwar denied any involvement in the DNAA granted to Zahid, stressing it was the AGC decision.

“The AG had full authority and he gave his reasons.

“It is the AG’s decision and I can’t interfere,” Anwar was quoted as saying in Jakarta.

He emphasised that since taking office nine months ago, he never intervened in the judiciary.

On Tuesday, Syed Saddiq demanded a detailed explanation from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Zahid’s DNAA – failing which the youth-based party will withdraw support for the coalition government.

Doing so would effectively deny the government a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat, as Anwar’s government came to power after the 15th general election with the backing of 148 MPs, including Syed Saddiq, who represents Muar.

Muda also demanded the AGC provide a detailed explanation of the DNAA in Parliament which convenes next week, so it can be debated.

To this, Anwar said Parliament was not a court to discuss cases.

The prime minister also said the process to separate power between the attorney-general and public prosecutor is ongoing.

“The government has made a decision (on the separation) much earlier. This is ongoing and we have not even referred it to the select committee.

“It will cost a lot of money. Fair, it has to be done, it will be done. But please don’t suggest it has not been decided.

“You can’t bulldoze it in a few weeks and we need to have a two-thirds majority to effect this reform,” Anwar added.

On Selangor Perikatan Nasional chief Azmin Ali’s remark that Anwar’s ‘reformasi’ struggle was now a ‘reformati’ (dead reforms) movement, the Harapan chairperson said it was Azmin’s fault.

“He (Azmin) was the one who killed (mematikan) reformasi. Otherwise, God willing, all is still good,” Anwar said.