The country’s first woman chief justice flexed her muscle and showed the former premier that she refused to be bullied and intimidated.
Malaysia’s judicial system will be a laughing stock if former Prime Minister Najib Razak is acquitted in his final appeal in the Federal Court for corruption. All hell will break loose if the same judiciary later finds opposition figure Lim Guan Eng guilty of his current ongoing corruption trial. Can you imagine setting Najib free based on “hearsay”, but jailing Lim also based on hearsay?
The difference is, while Najib wanted to use hearsay as evidence in his final appeal to break free, Lim has been charged based on hearsay. Najib has been found guilty – twice – while Lim’s trial in still in progress. More importantly, the dirty money trail has been established in Najib’s case, where he had happily spent the stolen money. Not a penny was found in Lim’s case.
Therefore, it was an absolutely correct decision when the Federal Court threw away Najib’s request to introduce fresh evidence yesterday. It was a delay tactic deployed by his multi-million-dollar top legal team to keep him out of prison – till after the 15th General Election. The strategy is to intimidate – even change the judges – once Najib’s corrupted political party wins the polls.
The defence argued that High Court Judge Nazlan Ghazali, who in July 2020 sentenced the ex-premier to 12 years in prison for abuse of power, and 10 years in jail for each of six counts of money laundering and breach of trust (CBT) in addition to a fine of RM210 million, was tainted with serious conflict of interest when presiding over the SRC International trial. Hence, they wanted a fresh trial.
The genius Najib said Nazlan ought to have ejected himself from hearing the case based on a desperately twisted argument that the judge, formerly general counsel for Maybank (2006 to 2015), was involved in the decision-making process which led to the formation of SRC as subsidiary of 1MDB. Najib has also accused that “bias” Nazlan was involved in granting a RM4.17 billion loan to 1MDB.
To make the false accusation more dramatic, Najib paid disgraced blogger-turn-fugitive Raja Petra Kamarudin to smear the reputation of Nazlan with claims that the judge was corrupted and had received RM1 million from 1MDB. Nazlan lodged a police report in April. Stunningly, Najib withdrew his bribery allegations in early August, just a week before today’s final appeal.
However, the damage has been done. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), led by its highly corrupted chief commissioner Azam Baki, obediently opened investigation papers on Nazlan to help Najib’s corruption case. The plan was not only to damage the credibility of the High Court Judge, but also to intimidate, threaten and interfere with the administration of justice.
Showing her disgust over the relentless attacks on the judiciary by corrupt politicians, Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat – the first woman Chief Justice – warned in April that baseless accusations against judges had gone overboard. Defending Judge Nazlan, Chief Justice Maimun made it clear that outside meddling would never be entertained under her leadership.
It was a warning very few took seriously, included the arrogant defence team of Najib. Today (Aug 16), the country’s first woman chief justice flexed her muscle and showed the former premier that she refused to be bullied and intimidated. She used Najib’s appeal as an example to demonstrate how cases are decided based on evidence – not half-baked hearsay – in court.
Leading a five-member bench, Chief Justice Maimun said Najib had failed to show the relevance of the dubious new evidence against his corruption charges. She said – “It is not as if Justice Nazlan’s previous role (as Maybank general counsel) was a secret that his subsequent involvement came as a surprise”. It was a slap in the face of both Najib and the entire defence team.
Nazlan’s previous employment with Maybank was public knowledge. In fact, his role was well documented in the annual reports of the country’s largest banking group. Even if he was involved in the decision-making which led to the formation of SRC, the decision was not his alone. He was not the CEO or CFO, let alone the biggest shareholder of Maybank who approved the loan to 1MDB.
Even if Nazlan had the power to approve RM4.17 billion loan to 1MDB, which he did not, he would end up as Najib’s partner-in-crime. So, how could he be bias and sentenced Najib to 12 years in prison? Besides, based on how Najib’s legal eagle repeatedly and meticulously scrutinized the appointment of Gopal Sri Ram as lead prosecutor, it’s hard to believe the same defence team hadn’t a clue about Nazlan’s roles in Maybank.
It was both flabbergasting and hilarious to see Najib’s new defence team led by Hisyam Teh Poh Teik stooping so low in scrapping the bottom of the barrel, bulldozing Nazlan’s non-relevance career in Maybank just to get a retrial for the crook. Chief Justice Maimun lectured the defence that the application to adduce additional evidence did not fulfil the requirements of the law.
More importantly, Tengku Maimun said the applicant – Najib Razak – had failed to state exactly what the proposed additional evidence would prove. Therefore, she said “there is no miscarriage of justice”. To rub salt into Najib’s wound, the decision by the Federal Court, the highest court and the final appellate court in the country, is unanimous.
Even if Nazlan has shown elements of bias or conflict, which he did not, would not the three-member Court of Appeal have acquitted Najib on December 8, 2021? Instead, not only the Court of Appeal upheld Najib Razak’s conviction, delivering a stunning blow to the crook’s plan for a political comeback, the court also called the 1MDB scandal a “national embarrassment”. – Finance Twitter