Mahathir warns Ismail Sabri against interfering in court cluster cases

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Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should not interfere with the judiciary to have charges against Umno leaders dropped, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

According to Dr Mahathir, there should not be any intrusion into the administration of the law.

“This cannot happen. Don’t interfere with the law, do not try to intervene and influence the judiciary or the attorney-general,” he told The Malaysian Insight in a recent interview, referring to the so-called court cluster.

This is a group of Umno leaders who are presently facing criminal trials, including party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and convicted former prime minister Najib Razak.

There have been murmurs in Umno that Ismail Sabri, who is also an Umno vice-president, can interfere to drop the charges against his party leaders.

These charges were brought under the Pakatan Harapan administration when Dr Mahathir was the prime minister.

Najib was convicted last year of seven charges related to the misappropriation of RM42 million from SRC International.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined RM210 million, but was granted bail while he appealed the decision.

Meanwhile, Zahid faces more than 80 charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and bribery.

Others in the court cluster include former Tabung Haji chairman Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan and Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Bung Moktar Radin.

On Tuesday at Kuala Lumpur High Court, Ahmad denied charges of money laundering for failing to declare RM2 million received from Najib to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) and giving a false statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Azeez is facing 14 charges of corruption and money laundering with his brother Latif, while Bung is accused of receiving RM2.8 million payment for a RM150 million Felcra investment.

These leaders were all in the same faction that pressured former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin to step down recently.

Upon his resignation, Muhyiddin had said he would never give in to the kleptocrats, suggesting that his downfall was due to his decision to drop the cases against them.

Dr Mahathir further said that Attorney-General Idrus Harun should not bow to pressure either.

“The AG works directly for the prime minister. He can say no to cases. (If there are) court cases, they will suddenly say there are no cases,” he said.

Dr Mahathir believed such a plan was already in motion because there was already a decision now in favour of the court cluster.

The Langkawi MP said the courts had decided to return millions of ringgit confiscated from Najib in connection with the cases he is facing.

“In some cases, some people have stolen (hundreds) of millions but then they (court) gave it back – to a thief. It’s a jackpot.”

He was referring to the court’s decision to return the RM114 million seized from Najib after forfeiture of assets case against him was dismissed.

Dr Mahathir also warned that despite not being involved in Najib’s alleged misconduct, Ismail Sabri would still bear the brunt.

“His selection as prime minister is good, but those backing him do not have a good track record. His support comes from the court cluster.

“For now, he is not involved in any corrupt practices, as far as we know. However, if he surrounds himself with people like Najib, he will learn the wrong things.

“If he too starts to practise ‘cash is king’, it will be a repeat of Najib and Muhyiddin’s legacy,” he said.

Last week, former prime minister Muhyiddin’s administration collapsed when 15 Umno MPs, including the court cluster withdrew their support for him.

On Saturday, Ismail Sabri became the ninth prime minister with the support of 114 elected representatives, including those from Umno and also from Muhyiddin’s party, Bersatu. – TMI