The Story of Double Standard in Judicial System

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Pensioner sent to lockup, while crooked Najib walked free.

On September 20, 2018, people were quite excited as there was a chance that Najib Razak could spend a night in police lockup. People were already frustrated that the crook was given so many special privileges by the new Pakatan Harapan government, including not having to wear the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) orange uniform.

Former Prime Minister Najib was charged with four counts of abuse of power and corruption involving RM2.282 billion in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fund and 21 counts of money laundering. There was an argument between the defence team and prosecutor whether Najib should be allowed bail. The prosecution said all the 25 charges were not bailable, but the defence disagreed.

Even though the prosecution team (led by former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram) objected to any bail, but in the eventuality the court grants it, the amount should be RM5 million due to the seriousness of the offences. Prosecutor Sri Ram had argued in the court that Najib’s social status was “not sufficient grounds to grant bail”.

However, Najib’s hotshot lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, argued that his client should not only be allowed bail, the amount should be just RM500,000 – 10% of the amount suggested by the prosecutor. At that time, the bail office was already closed as the operation hour was from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Similarly, the court’s bank had closed for the day – suggesting that Najib won’t be able to pay his bail at all.

Finally, Sessions Court Justice Azura Alwi fixed bail at RM3.5 million. Not only was Najib unable to pay his bail that day, his lawyer had even asked for the bail amount to be paid in instalments. Surprisingly, the judge allowed Najib to defer his payment of RM1 million the next day (Sept 21), while the rest is to be settled by Sept 28 (eight days later) at RM500,000 a day.

Najib was allowed to walk away a free man that day, largely because of his social status, and partly due to extremely broken and corrupt systems, thanks to 61 years of one-party rule – Barisan Nasional. How could a crook like Najib be exempted from wearing the orange suit, but Shafie Abdal (current Sabah Chief Minister) had to be humiliated with the trademark uniform?

Berita Harian

More importantly, how could the despicable Najib be allowed the convenience of posting his bail the next day because the bank was closed, not to mention the flexibility of paying his bail in instalments, as if he was purchasing some sort of electrical appliance from a shop? Yes, the Kangaroo Court still exist in Malaysia, and the double standard can be clearly seen even during the Coronavirus lockdown.

A retired civil servant was reportedly arrested on Monday (April 20), about 300 metres away from his home. He was on his way to buy food, but the police were not convinced. The reason – he was wearing sport shoes, hence the authorities believed he was exercising and not actually going to buy food. He was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate Court the next day (April 21).

According to the accused’s lawyer, Tay Yi Kuan from Messrs Roshan, the pensioner had reached the court as early as 8:45am. However, it would take hours later at 4:30pm that the case was called upon by the court. The accused was charged with violation of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.

Tay said – “Although the case was called earlier around 2:30pm, there was a double entry in the system, meaning the accused case was entered twice, so for the first entry, the accused was given a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA).” When the retired civil servant pleaded not guilty, Magistrate Nur Farahain Roslan granted bail of RM1,500 with one surety.

Like Najib, whose son Mohammed Nizar was ready to pay bail for his father, the son of the pensioner who allegedly had flouted the movement control order (MCO) was present at the Magistrate Court to post the bail. But unlike Najib’s bailors, the retired civil servant’s son brought enough cash to pay for the bail.

Despite having enough cash to bail his father, it was too late because apparently the Maybank branch located at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex, the authorised bank to process bail applications, was closed at 4pm as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Another authorised Maybank branch located at Desa Sri Hartamas had already closed earlier at 2pm for the same reason – MCO.

The alternate bank – Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) – located at LHDN (Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri or Inland Revenue Board) was also closed during MCO. To make matters worse, lawyer Tay Yi Kuan revealed that the “E-Jamin”, supposedly online payment system which could process bail payment in just 30 minutes, was not working as the person in charge was not at Court.

To begin with, the bail counter, which processes all bail matters closed at 4pm – making it impossible for the accused’s son to post bail. When a bail is granted by the magistrate, the bailor has to go to the bail counter to inform the person in charge so that a form can be issued. With that form, the bailor will then have to open a bank account and deposit bail money into that account.

Subsequently, the bank officer will prepare a letter confirming that the bail amount has been deposited into the account. The bailor, in this case the retired civil servant’s son, has to rush back to the bail counter to submit the letter so that the process of releasing the accused can be completed. But the story didn’t end there, of course.

Lawyer Tay pleaded with the Magistrate Court to allow his client to post bail the next day because all the authorized banks were already closed by the time the case was called to be heard at 4:30pm. He justified that his client had been at the courthouse as early as 8:45am and the bailor had brought enough cash. To his horror, Magistrate Nur Farahain Roslan denied the request.

Thanks to the inhuman decision of the magistrate, the retired civil servant, despite having pleaded his innocence and being granted bail, was sent to spend a night in Sungai Buloh prison, the same prison that many people had hoped Najib Razak would spend years for stealing and plundering the national coffers to the tune of billions of dollars.

Sure, some said Najib was innocent until proven guilty, but so do the retired civil servant. Both Najib and this accused have pleaded their respective innocence. But unlike Najib, the pensioner did not even ask for instalment with regards to his bail. What the poor man had asked for was for the flexibility to post his bail the next day.

Exactly why Najib was allowed the convenience of posting his bail the next day because the bank was closed, but not the retired civil servant due to the same reason? Was it his fault that all the banks were closed due to the lockdown declared by Prime Minister Muhyiddin? Was the allegation of flouting MCO a more serious crime than Najib’s stealing billions of dollars in the 1MDB scandal?

Perhaps Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat – the first woman Chief Justice – should explain what appears to be a glaring double standard in Malaysian Judiciary. Should not an incompetent and a heartless magistrate like Nur Farahain Roslan be fired, or at least demoted? Failure to do anything or trying to sweep the injustice under the carpet will definitely send a wrong message about the integrity of the Palace of Justice. – Finance Twitter