Dennis Ignatius: The PM’s absurd defence of Zahid Hamidi’s DNAA

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Trying to defend the unjustifiable.

Bernama

In a televised interview during the 10th Milken Institute Conference in Singapore earlier this week, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim gave three reasons to justify dropping all 47 charges for corruption and abuse of power against his deputy, Zahid Hamidi.

He said that:

(1) the charges against Zahid were not professionally done.

(2) the charges against Zahid were politically motivated; that Mahathir was seeking to punish Zahid for refusing to dissolve UMNO as he had demanded.

(3) the charges were apparently so flawed that it bothered the conscience of the AG who wanted to set things right before leaving office.

Interestingly, while he was reluctant to explain the whole DNAA decision in parliament he had no trouble speaking his mind in Singapore to an international audience.

But his defence of Zahid’s DNAA only raises more questions. In the first place, his remarks about the high number of charges against Zahid betrays a lack of understanding of the law which requires the charges to be very specific, that each act of alleged wrongdoing must be itemised. Lawyers I have talked to are simply stunned that the PM could be so ignorant of the legal system of the country which he, as PM, represents.

Is the PM also suggesting then that the previous AG (Tommy Thomas) had acted in bad faith when he charged Zahid in 2018, that he was a party to some grand conspiracy to go after UMNO leaders? Strange, that the only AG in recent times who seems to have done his job is now being pilloried, harassed and investigation while those charged are set free.

And is the PM now agreeing with UMNO that the whole series of cases brought against UMNO leaders for corruption, money laundering and abuse of power were just the political machinations of Mahathir? If so, it is an astounding condemnation of our legal system.

Furthermore, if the charges against Zahid were so flawed, why did the judge hearing the case conclude that there was a prima facie case to answer? Is the PM suggesting that somehow the judge got it wrong too?

As well, if the charges against Zahid were so defective, why did the AG wait more than three years after the trial commenced and after some 77 days of trial and after 99 prosecution witnesses had been called, before asking the court to in effect terminate the trial by granting a DNAA?

Isn’t it strange too that the same AG (Idrus Harun) served both prime ministers Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri without any talk of a DNAA for Zahid but after Anwar became PM the same AG has a change of heart? And that too just after the lead prosecutor mysteriously retires.

At the end of the day, no matter how the PM tries to spin it, it doesn’t pass the smell test. It doesn’t add up. It’s just too convenient. It doesn’t take a legal expert to conclude that the PM’s justification is just baloney, the act of a desperate politician trying to defend the unjustifiable.

What he is doing is engaging in a blatantly politically motivated deception of his own to justify what most “thinking Malaysians” (to quote Anwar in his televised interview) already know to be an unconscionable act, one that strikes at the very heart of our system of justice. He is doing what Mahathir infamously did in 1988 when he moved against the judges – subverting the justice system for political gain.

Indeed, it is so outrageous and so irresponsible that it immediately compromises his own integrity and calls into question his commitment to justice, good governance and fighting corruption.

No doubt Anwar’s supporters will rush to his aid with all that nonsense about the lesser of two evils, oblivious of the fact that when one chooses the lesser of two evils, evil still triumphs as this whole affair makes clear.

What a sad commentary about the state of affairs in our nation as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of Malaysia. – Dennis Ignatius