The Rule of Law in Malaysia


October 9, 2016

The  Rule of Law in Malaysia

by James Giggacher

1MDB shows that an already fragile rule of law is being stretched to the limits, writes James Giggacher.

Malaysia’s rule of law may have reigned supreme in this week’s case of the Budgie Nine – saving the Southeast Asian state from gross national insult at the hands of some silly young Australians. Too bad the same thing can’t be said about another national disgrace, the 1MDB financial scandal.

Image result for Budgie Nine

The Budgies of Australia

In the face of investigations into the country’s failing sovereign wealth fund, and Prime Minister Najib Razak’s alleged links to millions of missing dollars, the Rule of Law has in fact gone missing in action.

This was certainly the case when Najib sacked Attorney-General, Abdul Gani Patail, who planned to bring charges relating to 1MDB against the Prime Minister in July 2015.In doing so, the Malaysian Prime Minister violated the Malaysian constitution [Article 145 (6)]. Unfortunately, Mr. Patail did not challenge the legality of the sacking in the Malaysian court

The plan was leaked, and Abdul Ghani stepped down, officially for ‘health reasons’. Perhaps he’d heard about what happened to former Mongolian model and Najib’s inner circle mainstay, Altantuya Shaarribuu.

At the same time, Najib removed his deputy and one of his most vocal critics — Muhyiddin Yassin.

Image result for Crooked Najib above theLaw

Mamak Mohamad Appandi  Ali–UMNO Crony Attorney-General

The former AG’s replacement, Mohamed Apandi Ali, almost immediately cleared his embattled PM of any wrongdoing. Apandi said that the royal family of Saudi Arabia had gifted Najib $US 681 million, of which $US 600 million had been returned. He also said no criminal offence had been committed. However, several countries, including the US, Switzerland, Singapore and the Seychelles, are still investigating the case.

Reports on the scandal by Malaysia’s central bank and anti-corruption commission have also been dismissed by Apandi; according to him the PM has no case to answer.

And in June, Najib filed court documents that denied graft, misuse of power, and interference in 1MDB investigations in response to a lawsuit brought by former PM and mentor, and now key adversary, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Image result for Crooked Najib above theLaw

Seeking God’s Mercy

Meanwhile, the almost 700 million dollar question of how 2.6 billion ringgit managed to find its way into Najib’s personal bank accounts has yet to be satisfactorily answered.

So much for due process, democratic safeguards, transparency, and holding those in power to account. But can we expect anything better from a Malaysia still under the sway of long-ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) and its leading party, Najib’s UMNO?

The dismantling of and disdain for judicial and state institutions is not a recent phenomenon. As Jayson Browder notes, BN has long had a poor record of abiding by the rule of law.

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Fighting Fit Rosmah ready to take on all comers

It has consistently leveraged several national laws – including The Peaceful Assembly Act of 2012, the Sedition Act of 1948, and the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1948 – to curtail freedoms, assembly, political expression as well as intimate activists, opponents, civil society and the media, and ensure its power.

These tactics guarantee the ruling coalition’s stranglehold over Malaysia’s political system “in direct violation of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution in Malaysia.” Article 10 is meant to guarantee Malaysian citizens the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

An embattled Najib has only sharpened the teeth of a legal system already heavily stacked in his party’s favour. In August he brought in an unprecedented law that allows him to designate ‘security areas’ and deploy forces to search people, places and vehicles without a warrant.

Draconian would be an understatement.Laurent Meillan, from the UN Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia, said that they were “gravely concerned” about human rights violations as a consequence of the act. The act could further restrict already highly limited rights of free speech and free assembly.

And in March this year, the independent news site The Malaysian Insider, went offline. Owners cited poor financial returns and high costs. The then editor, Jahabar Sadiq, said it was because the threat of being charged with sedition that could lead to jail time had become all too real.

The decision to pull the plug came almost three weeks after Malaysia’s Internet regulator — the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission – issued a gag order on the site because of a report alleging the country’s anti-corruption commission had sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Najib in the 1MDB case – even though he had already been cleared by Apandi.

The lesson? Smuggling budgies and smearing the flag is a clear no-no. Smuggling billions and smearing the nation’s sovereign wealth fund is a-ok. It all goes to show that in Malaysia there is the rule of law – but most of the time there’s the law that lets BN rule.

James Giggacher is an associate lecturer in the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and editor of New Mandala.

http://www.newmandala.org

Najib in Power:Parliament, Civil Service, Police, Judiciary, and UMNO have failed the Malaysian People


September 20, 2016

Najib in Power:Parliament, Civil Service, Police, Judiciary, and UMNO  have failed the Malaysian People

by  P Gunasegaram

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Najib the crook

After all his failings and lies over his brainchild, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), and at least US$3.5 billion (RM14 billion) embezzled from it, and as much as US$7 billion (US$28 billion) unaccounted for, why is it that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak remains in power?

How could a nation keep a Prime Minister who is directly and indirectly responsible for the biggest fraud in Malaysian history and perhaps the biggest fraud ever in the world in power? The Minister of Finance Inc (Najib is Finance Minister, too) owns all of 1MDB, he was chairperson of the advisory board and the memorandum and articles of association of 1MDB required him to sign off on all major deals.

In other countries that practice true parliamentary democracy, that would have been enough to nail him and kick him out hard if he had not already resigned by then, but not here. Why?

Just because he was Head of UMNO and Barisan Nasional or BN when the coalition won the last elections in 2013, it does not convey on him an automatic right to remain prime minister until the next elections.

A Prime Minister can be removed if he does wrong under the law but for that to work you need independence of both investigating and prosecuting authorities. Najib circumvented that by removing the previous Attorney-General (Gani Patail) under highly suspicious circumstances. At the same time, the country’s corruption-fighting body saw wrenching changes while central bank officials were questioned by the Police for possible leaks of information over that US$681 million “donation” that went into the accounts of Najib at AmBank.

When dissent within his party began to surface, he took action against senior party officials culminating in the expulsion of his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin who, together with former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has now formed a new party.

That served as an example for any others who might want to challenge Najib’s leadership of UMNO and resulted in UMNO top guns and other heads of political parties within the BN coalition keeping mum and voicing their support for Najib.

UMNO party elections have been postponed to after the next general elections, preventing would-be contestants from ousting him. It looks like no one within Umno is capable of organising a revolt or rebellion and to force an extraordinary general assembly which could remove him as party chief and hence prime minister.

That Najib remains PM, and UMNO President, is first and foremost a reflection of the poor leadership at the top of UMNO. Except for Muhyiddin, Shafie Apdal and Mukhriz Mahathir, no significant UMNO leader has opposed Najib over 1MDB and other matters. If enough UMNO top leaders join in the clamour against Najib, Najib will have to go – you don’t even have to wait for a grassroots revolt.

Let’s take it from the top. Najib’s current deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, continues to make noises of support for Najib. This one-time solid Anwar Ibrahim supporter, jailed under the Internal Security Act (ISA) with Anwar in 1998 under Mahathir’s rule, must know that if UMNO goes into the polls with Najib at the top, its chances of winning would be much eroded. But he does not want to make the mistake his former boss did of moving too hastily.

Image result for Hishammuddin Hussein Onn the idiot

The UMNO Idiotic Minister of Defence

And then, with the exit of Shafie Apdal, comes Hishammuddin Hussein, Najib’s cousin and son of the Third Prime minister, Hussein Onn. Najib was son of the second. If Hishammuddin had his father’s guts, principles and integrity he would have no choice but to voice his opposition to Najib. But no, he does not but condones Najib.

Image result for Khairy Jamaluddin--Man in a Hurry

Ambitious But Unprincipled 

And then there is UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin – suave, dapper and Oxford educated.  A man in so much of a hurry to get to the top that one can’t expect him to be steadfast and upholding and give up what may, yes, get him to the top.

No ‘scrotal gumption’

For all three of them, does good politics dictate that they must support Najib no matter what, even if he allows Malaysia to be turned into a kleptocracy? Do they all not have the “scrotal gumption” – to borrow two words from former Court of Appeal judge Mahadev Shankar – to at least this once put nation and people above their own personal ambitions, and do what’s right even if it is risky?

Who knows, their political ambitions may be furthered if they do that because a majority of Malays themselves are likely to support their actions. Polls indicate Najib’s support among Malays is at an all-time low of 25 percent.

Remember Mahathir’s meteoric rise after he lost his parliamentary seat way back in 1969, criticised then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, got expelled from UMNO and then became Education Minister in 1974 after he was given a seat to contest by Tunku’s successor, Abdul Razak Hussein, Najib’s father?

Clearly they don’t make young UMNO leaders like they did before. And clearly too UMNO politics were rather devious even then. And MCA and MIC, what say you? Does Liow Tiong Lai for a moment think that the ordinary Chinese think his support for Najib is justified? What about the Indians, Dr S Subramaniam, do you think they support Najib right now?

Over in Sabah and Sarawak, do Kadazans and Dusuns and others actually support Najib? And shouldn’t leaders of parties like PBS and PBB be more circumspect of their support for Najib as leader of the coalition? How about it, Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Adenan Satem? Is it not time to make your views felt?

Umno after all had only 88 seats out of 133 seats at the end of the last elections in 2013 in the 222-seat Parliament. UMNO cannot rule without its partners no matter what some of their leaders say.

The combined opposition had one more than UMNO with 89 seats. If all of UMNO’s partners moved over to opposition, the government is toppled. In fact, if only 23 out of 44 defect, down comes Najib’s government. Surely they are collectively in a position to make some threats but why don’t they? Lack of scrotal gumption again?

He could be removed by Parliament – by a vote of no-confidence which will precipitate general elections if enough people vote with their conscience and not along party lines.

Image result for Malaysia'a dysfunctional Parliament

Najib stays in power because not enough elected representatives from the ruling coalition will say a word against him, let alone vote against him. UMNO has failed the people, MCA has failed the people, MIC has, and likewise Gerakan. The East Malaysian parties have also failed the people.

Ultimately, Malaysia’s elected representatives in Parliament collectively failed the people – they let a terribly tainted Prime Minister continue in office. Now all that is left is for the people to pressure the representatives to do their job and if they do not, kick them out unceremoniously when the time comes.  That will teach them to do the right thing the next time around.

UMNO state seeks DAP’s demise for political reasons


Washington DC

July 2, 2016

UMNO state seeks DAP’s demise for political reasons.

by  Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

If you give me six sentences written by the most innocent of men, I will find something in them with which to hang them.”– Armand Jean du Plessis Richelieu

COMMENT:  At first, I was pretty pissed. I am generally in an ornery mood when I began writing but more so now at the sight of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng being carted off by the establishment, another in a long line of opposition personalities harassed by the UMNO state.

Then I read an email, an impassioned one – you could tell it was impassioned because the whole mail was in capital letters – by a DAP supporter who ended the mail with a question –” Even Though you are a critic of  LGE do you think that LGE should take leave of absence?”

I was a bit surprised at that particular ending since I assumed all understood that my vitriol against the Umno establishment that I see as the clear and present danger, did not preclude criticism against the opposition establishment. Furthermore, as someone who is on record as saying that I think Guan Eng is someone who should be given a shot at being a prime minister  even though he and his followers eschew the idea for so-called pragmatic reasons, I would be the last person who could be considered hostile to the man. That is partisan politics for you.

UMNO State’s Winning Captain

I remember the online opprobrium Ambiga Sreenavesan received when she advocated this option and Cynthia Gabriel of C4 who advocated the same and included “the Youth and Sports Ministry senior officer under investigation for alleged misappropriation of funds amounting to RM100 million should similarly be ordered to go on leave”.

When asked recently, former Bar President Ambiga Sreenevasan was reported as saying, “In view of this being an unusual case, she said the usual conventions cannot necessarily be applied.” I can understand this position. I can empathise with this position but ultimately because the democratic process has been undermined, what we can do is act by individual principle.

Then, of course, there’s DAP’s Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng’s questions to those asking for Guan Eng to take leave which are not really good questions since Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, even if he takes a leave of absence, would still be able to influence the legal and security apparatus beholden to him. There are many reasons why a politician accused of corruption should take a leave of absence until vindicated, but the fact that so far the DAP has not rung that bell, except when it involves BN politicians is predictable.

Of course as DAP’s Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer, directed at the activists and lawyers at the time, warned “the Malaysian Bar to be ‘cautious’ when commenting on the issue as some quarters may ‘take advantage’ of it”. Nobody, certainly not someone like me, would want to be on the same boat as most BN politicians and certainly not someone like Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim who I have written about before, but yes, I think the Penang CM should take a leave of absence until these charges have been settled.

 

Now of course supporters are going to take offence at my stand. This is to be expected. Ambiga is right when she talks of the stratagem to force opposition leaders to take leave.  However as long as Guan Eng does not take leave, it just provides further propaganda for the Umno state to attack the Penang administration with this issue and further stoke racial and political fires.

It’s much better for the opposition to demonstrate that even if their leaders are removed from the political chessboard, other personalities could step in the interim and run the state and the opposition machinery.

The problem with the opposition has always been that there has been too much investment in personality politics, which is why the Umno regime has been very effective in neutralising their political foes. This is the perfect opportunity for DAP leaders and the opposition to demonstrate that their – our – cause is more than just about one man. It is also the perfect opportunity for others to demonstrate their leadership capabilities.

While there are murmurs amongst certain opposition supporters that Guan Eng should be above reproach, that since his party and him have set the bar so high and knowing that his political adversaries watch his every move, that any hint of impropriety should be avoided. The majority, of course, shouts down these people.

Ahirudin Attan, (aka Rocky’s Bru), in wishing Guan Eng good luck – since he had a personal relationship with the man – said this while advancing the narrative of the similarities between this particular case and that of former Selangor menteri besar Mohamad Khir Toyo’s – “I believed this country of ours had a working justice system that must be allowed to proceed with as little hindrance as possible in order to let the truth prevail.”

I know Rocky and even though we are playing for different sides, I believe he is sincere when he wishes the best of luck to Guan Eng even if just in remembrance of past comradeship.

However, I do not have the same faith in our justice system as him. I believe that these charges are politically motivated. Ever since the by-elections, the hatred against the DAP has been ratcheted up by propaganda organs of the Umno state. This is why the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been spinning for the Pahang mufti who advocated genocide against the DAP and non-Muslims. Apparently he has been misquoted but when his own clarifications make his intent clear, why bother arguing the point is beyond me.

Najib’s biggest blunder

The men hunting Lim Guan Eng are not interested in the truth. The men hunting him have a very specific agenda. From talking to some of my UMNO friends – and there are people in UMNO who think this is Najib’s biggest blunder since the 1MDB fiasco – certain themes emerge. The agenda of these men are as follows:

1. Tarnish the reputation of the chief minister of the state that has received accolades from the UMNO state’s own governmental agency thereby damaging the credibility of the government and collecting propaganda material to be used domestically and internationally against a politician who was once detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

2. Capitalising on what UMNO believes is a shift in Chinese voting patterns by damaging the “alternative” Chinese power structure. This is why the head honcho of the MCA is dispensing dollops of schadenfreude since the majority of the Chinese community have stood by in the past when DAP leaders were vilified and targeted by the UMNO state.

3. Furthering the narrative that we have an independent security and legal apparatus by linking the corruption scandal and subsequent legal consequences of Khir Toyo and the allegations against Guan Eng. This is why the rush to paint this as part of a larger unbiased crackdown on corruption in this country.

There is also a racial subtext here. That a Chinese politician is equally as corrupt as a Malay (?) politician. This is fodder for Malay language pro-establishment news outlets and the continuing sabotage of the Malay polity. Remember what veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin said?

4. That the DAP is hypocritical and racists in its reaction against allegations of corruption. Already propaganda organs have been disseminating the numerous public rhetorical blunders by DAP operatives and linking to DAP-friendly online sites where the most vile speech is used in defence of Guan Eng.

5. The outcome is inevitable. Former Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim was right when he implied that the fix is in. Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali is the man who cleared Najib of any wrongdoing but in the process inadvertently raised more questions on the scandal. Perhaps he is the wrong person to run this case for the UMNO state.

His confidence that he can win the state’s case is not a question of legal ingenuity but rather establishment manipulation, plain and simple.

Someone reminded me that where there is smoke there is fire but I am not interested in anything like that. Some would find fault in my thinking but this is of no concern to me. When I say that this is a politically motivated prosecution, this does not mean that I think Guan Eng is innocent or guilty. In a functional system, that would be for the courts to determine. What I mean is that UMNO wants to destroy Guan Eng and the DAP for political reasons.

What I do know is that when the system turns a blind eye against the biggest corruption scandal this country has witnessed, then I say that every single other case of corruption – no matter how small or big or the personalities involved – is irrelevant. There are no laws that demand fidelity. There is only pantomime.

Four months ago, Rayer warned some folks they “should not fall into BN’s trap”.This should have been directed at the opposition.


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Malaysia :The Attorney-General is not Above or Below the Law


March 21, 2016

The Bar Council does not do politics

 It is unfortunate that lawyers who are themselves politically active either openly or in private should accuse the Bar Council of acting like an opposition party.

 

By Gerard Lourdesamy

I was amused to read the comments made by two prominent lawyers who represent UMNO and the Prime Minister Mohd Najib Razak and another lawyer who is a DAP state assemblyman in Penang about the censure motion against the Attorney-General (A-G) Mohamed Apandi Ali proposed by three members of the Bar and the judicial review application filed by the Bar Council in relation to the A-G’s failure to exercise his prosecutorial powers against the Prime Minister for alleged corruption.

The Attorney-General is not Above or Below the Law

While they are perfectly entitled to express their views in support of the AG or otherwise, they displayed a certain degree of ignorance about the constitutional position of the AG, the role of public interest litigation by way of judicial review and the role of the Bar Council.

My response to them is :

(a) The censure motion did not originate from the Bar Council but from three members of the Bar;

(b) Unlike political parties like UMNO and the DAP, the Bar Council cannot prevent a motion from being tabled and debated at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Malaysian Bar so long as the requisite notice is given to the Bar Council Secretariat and the motion has a proposer and two seconders. This even applies to motions that are critical of the Bar Council or their leadership;

(c) The censure motion in its purport and effect had nothing to do with the judicial review application filed by the Bar Council against the A-G in respect of his decision not to charge the Prime Minister for alleged offences in relation to the RM2.6 billion “political donation” and the RM42 million from SRC International that mysteriously ended up in his personal bank accounts;

(d) The appointment of the A-G is done by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution on the advice of the Prime Minister;

(e) The Agong is bound to act on such advice as provided for in Article 40 (1) and (1A) of the Constitution;

(f) The appointment of the A-G is not one of the prerogative powers of the Agong, see Article 40 (2) of the Constitution;

(g) If every exercise of power by the Agong under the Constitution is deemed to be part of his prerogative powers, for example the Royal Address that is read at the state opening of Parliament, then we would like Brunei, be an absolute monarchy as opposed to a constitutional one;

(h) The locus standi test for judicial review in the context of public interest litigation has been widened by the Federal Court in the case of Malaysian Trades Union Congress & 13 Ors v Menteri Tenaga, Air dan Komunikasi & Anor where the Court held that in order to pass the “adversely affected” test for judicial review, an applicant has to at least show that he has a real and genuine interest in the subject matter. The Court added that it is not necessary for the applicant to establish infringement of a private right or the suffering of special damage;

(i) Therefore, it would be erroneous to argue that the Bar Council’s judicial review application against the A-G is bound to fail by reason of Article 145 (3) of the Constitution. In fact there are obiter statements of the Privy Council and the Federal Court itself that suggests that in certain exceptional circumstances such a review may be possible;

(j) The sub judice rule is only applicable in criminal and civil cases where there is trial by jury. Otherwise it is obsolete. A single judge having to decide a case based on the law and evidence before him should be astute enough not to be influenced by external and extraneous factors and circumstances;

(k) In any event the application of the sub judice rule to questions asked in Parliament is for the Speaker to decide and not for ministers to pre-empt;

(l) It is unfortunate that lawyers who are themselves politically active either openly or in private should accuse the Bar Council of acting like an opposition party. This accusation is akin to saying that all lawyers who are active in UMNO or the DAP couldn’t care less about the Rule of Law and the interests of Justice;

(m) The Bar Council is only concerned about the Rule of Law and the imperative to do justice without fear or favour. It is a statutory duty imposed on the Bar Council by the Legal Profession Act. The Council is not bothered about lucrative legal fees from the government or government linked entities or a plethora of titles and honorifics or a slew of benefits that accrue to lawyers who very wisely represent and advise some of our politicians;

(n) If our government and its leaders have a tendency to only pay lip service to the Rule of Law, fundamental freedoms and human rights the Bar Council cannot be expected to keep quiet and vainly hope that these issues will be addressed by the government at some later date. I think close to 60 years since Independence is long enough for the government to act wisely and responsibly; and

(o) The A-G honestly knows how and when to defend himself. There is no need for lawyers in private practice who are well connected to the Establishment to comment as if they have been briefed by the A-G to represent him and by extension defend the government from the Bar Council.

Whatever the motives, self-regard and pomposity are not appealing traits in any lawyer, myself included.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Gerard Lourdesamy has been a practicing lawyer for the last 23 years.

Heading towards transparency and accountability except MALAYSIA


February 24. 2016

Heading towards transparency and accountability except MALAYSIA

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan

http://www.thestar.com.my

The Attorney-General aims to ensure government efficiency by protecting information that has not been fully decided upon, but regaining public trust must be his top priority.

THE Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an initiative that was formally launched in 2011 by eight founding countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Britain and the United States.

On its website, the OGP is described as “a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.”

The OGP now has 69 participating countries. To become a member, a country must announce their support of the Open Government Declaration and devise an action plan on how they will improve transparency and accountability.

We are persuading the Malaysian government to sign up for the OGP. To qualify as a member, we need to score at least 75% in the OGP eligibility scoring system. We are almost there, with a 2014 score of just over 62%.

Being a member of the OGP indicates a government’s commitment to good governance. No wonder then that the level of interest in the OGP is increasing. More countries are looking into the framework.

At the bi-annual OGP Summit, the number of participants has always been very healthy. We took part in the last two OGP Summits in Bali and Mexico City.

The level of enthusiasm from governments, civil society and even from some parts of the private sector was visible at these Summits. And I am really pleased that there were also other organisations from Malaysia who attended the Summit.

The hurdle that is blocking our entry is in the areas of asset disclosure by public officials and public access to information. But the level of interest is increasing, both globally and in Malaysia, as more and more people see the value of government openness.

It was unfortunate that while society and the world as a whole are showing greater interest in openness, our Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali announced that he wanted to strengthen the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

He was reported to want an increase in the punishment for those who leak Government secrets to life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the cane. He was also reported to have said that journalists who protect their sources may be charged.

There was an immediate uproar from civil society. Many are unhappy with Apandi’s desire. Even former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman was reported to have expressed unease with Apandi’s statement. Abu Talib reminded Apandi that the world is moving towards more transparency, not secrecy.

Abu Talib is right. The world is indeed moving towards greater transparency. Apandi’s statement made it sound like he is stuck in the Soviet era.But we should be fair to Apandi. Despite the public impression created by his statement, he actually does have a point.

In order to operate effectively, all organisations, including the Government need to have secrets protected. If information is released when it is not yet fully decided upon, all sorts of misunderstandings can be created.

But the desire for efficiency must be balanced with modern day demands for transparency. When high-ranking officials like Apandi speak about enhancing secrecy without promising improvements in transparency, it can only be expected that many people would be cynical about the motives.

On top of that, Apandi should remember that he faces an uphill battle when it comes to trust. Many people still have questions about the removal of his predecessor.

I say this with great sadness. It is depressing that we have come to a situation where it does not matter if Apandi is the most honest and the most professional Attorney-General in history.

There are people out there who just simply do not trust him. This makes it an uphill battle for him to command respect from all segments of the public.

Going back to his statement on the OSA, even if he said it with the purest of intentions, it is not easy for him to convince everyone that he is behaving professionally. He just simply does not command full public trust yet. As a result, no one even noticed that his desire to ensure Government efficiency is a laudable one.

With all due respect, my suggestion to Apandi is that he should concentrate on earning public trust first. He should avoid making statements that would erode trust because it would not help him in performing his duties. Earning trust must be his top priority.

Apandi should take advice on how to present a progressive image so that he can bring back the credibility of the office that he now holds. Only then would he be able to delve into controversial issues without creating more damage to the institution.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

 

My friend Abu Talib responds to this UMNO Fella Apandi


February 8, 2016

My friend Abu Talib responds to this UMNO Fella: A-G Apandi

by V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor

My principle is to assist them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.It was also my directive not to prefer any criminal charge on any suspect unless the prosecution has sufficient, credible and admissible evidence to justify prosecution.–Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman

Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman today said he had never directed investigation agencies, including the anti-graft body, to stop their probes.

“My principle is to assist them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. It was also my directive not to prefer any criminal charge on any suspect unless the prosecution has sufficient, credible and admissible evidence to justify prosecution,” he said.

Current A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had said he had followed in Abu Talib’s footsteps when he ordered the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to close its investigations into the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International funds deposited in prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s private accounts.

“I am just following my master’s footsteps. Now he said I couldn’t do that. I am confused.I hope he can come to see me so that I can offer my explanation,” Apandi reportedly told Sin Chew Daily in an exclusive interview.

Apandi was a senior officer with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in the early 1980s when Abu Talib was the A-G. Abu Talib last week told The Malaysian Insider that the A-G, who is also the public prosecutor, had no authority to order MACC to close its investigations into the two cases.

“This is a case of public importance that has attracted worldwide attention. The A-G must help MACC to collect evidence as the source of the fund is outside Malaysia,” Abu Talib had said.

Today, Abu Talib said Apandi should refresh his memory of cases where he had directed an on-going investigation to be closed.”Frankly, I cannot remember,” he said.

Abu Talib also said Apandi would not have been in a confused state of mind if he had indeed followed in his footsteps.

“His decision in the circumstances has raised more questions than solve the allegations against the Prime Minister, the status of other investigations related to the activities of 1MDB and persons connected with the company,” he said.

He said that in all fairness to Najib and the public, and mindful that the RM2.6 billion came from outside Malaysia, Apandi should have given all the necessary assistance to MACC to complete their investigations.

“It may well be that at the end of the day, Apandi will find enough evidence to show that Najib had done no wrong under the law,” he added.

The public, said Abu Talib, was not likely to question Apandi’s decision (to clear the PM of criminal wrongdoing) if he had allowed MACC to collect evidence outside Malaysia.

“As it is, Apandi’s decision appears questionable and has cast negative perceptions on his impartiality, commitment to justice and rule of law,” he added.

Abu Talib said he was not answerable to Apandi and that he was free to exercise his constitutional right to comment on a case of great public interest, so long he did not cross the limits of freedom of expression.

“My comment is clear and made in good faith. There is nothing further to explain,” he said.He added that Apandi was welcome to see him if he wanted to learn and know more about the law.