MALAYSIA’S FIRST OLYMPICS GOLD MEDAL FOR CORRUPTION, CHINA CHARGES POLICEMEN IN GU KAILAI COVER-UP WHEN WILL GANI PATAIL PAY FOR ALL HIS COVER-UP UTUSAN FRONT PAGED THE HEADLINE: “ IS NOT HARAM SOKONG UMNO MCA MIC CORRUPTION”.
The entire article was based on an interview with an unknown Muslim scholar, who failed to explained clearly the justification for his pronouncement. The ‘edict’ has now become a hot topic and source of much ridicule. In Malay and Muslim circles, the issue has even become known as Utusan’s ‘fatwa’ – which is a religious ruling that is generated by clerics officially appointed by the government.
Despite lingering questions over the independence and transparency of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigations, the panel has defended its probe against attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail following allegations of abuse of power and alleged graft over the Ho Hup Construction Bhd affair.
MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull (left) said the anti-graft body had once formed a three-member panel to probe the AG over Anwar Ibrahim’s black eye-incident.
Shukri also said the commission’s Operations Review Panel, which reviews all cases investigated by the graft body, is also stern in giving its views and its members are independent.
“The members are people who have their own expertise in auditing, forensics, business and others. There are cases which have been closed, where the panel has asked them to be reopened. This led to the prosecutors making a decision to prosecute the accused. Hence, there is an element of check and balance there,” he told Malaysiakini.
Shukri, however, admitted that the final decision may lie with the Attorney-General or any Deputy Public Prosecutor as stated in the Constitution. The MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner was asked to comment further on whether the Operations Review Panel has the powers or rights to adjudicate or decide on the conduct of a sitting A-G as stated in Article 145 (6) and Article 125 of the Federal Constitution.
Under the Constitution, a tribunal can be called against a sitting judge or the A-G. Yesterday Shukri said that no cases had been swept under the carpet.
It was reported that former Ho Hup Managing Director Low Tuck Choy had complainedabout the seeming lack of progress in MACC’s investigations into Abdul Gani’s alleged abuse of power and graft when he allegedly interfered in the company’s boardroom tussle.
Gani said to favour LyeGani is said to have favoured the company’s former Executive Deputy Chairperson Vincent Lye, who hails from Sabah, and in return is alleged to have received RM18,000 for the renovation of a bungalow in Seremban.While Low has been charged with four counts of failing to notify the changes in his interest in the company within seven days and his wife has also been investigated, no charges have been imposed on Lye.It was also reported that the three-member panel chaired by Federal Court judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman and comprising Court of Appeal judges Mohd Nor Abdullah and Mohd Nor Ahmad, had in 2009 in a majority decision cleared Gani and former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan of allegations of tampering with Anwar’s blood sample.Abdul Kadir, who is the senior most panel member, was the dissenting member of the panel who found there was a case to answer by the two (Gani and Musa).Anwar had lodged a Police report in 2008 accusing Musa and Gani, along with Dr Abdul Rahman Yusof and former Kuala Lumpur CID Chief Mat Zain Ibrahim of tampering with evidence.While Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz had said Musa and Gani had been cleared, he had however kept mum on Dr Abdul Rahman and Mat Zain.This resulted in Mat Zain going on a crusade to clear his name as he stated that it was Gani who may have landed former Attorney-General Mohtar Abdullah in a sticky situation by appointing Dr Rahman, whereas the Police had appointed its own doctors.The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission is only interested in tracing the source of the leak of documents pertaining to allegations of abuse of power and graft against Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail , and not the case itself.In making this allegation former Ho Hup managing director, Low Tuck Choy said he got to know this after the MACC entered the company’s premises last year.Responding to last Friday’s MACC’s statement that they won’t be calling Low to assist in the investigations while saying it would welcome his forwarding any further evidence in his possession, the former managing director of one of Malaysia’s largest construction companies said this was proof enough that the MACC was not serious about its probe.“When the MACC went into Ho Hup, they asked our staff how come the documents were leaked.The MACC was not interested in investigating the allegations. For me, all the evidence are already up there in the public domain. After 10 months, the MACC should’ve finished its probe into the case but it is still pending,” he told Malaysiakini.Low, 54, had in his police report earlier this month claimed that the documents which were uploaded in the Malaysia Today news portal are genuine.The documents contain an invoice from an electrical company, Ho Hup’s payment voucher dated 2009 with Abdul Gani’s name following work on a Seremban bungalow.We know who endorsed chequeFor example, Low added that the company and he know who had signed the cheque and who prepared the cash voucher for the electrical work carried out on the bungalow said to be linked to Abdul Gani.The person, Low said had since left Ho Hup but he is traceable and the company had also filed a suit against the person in connection with another case.“Has the MACC checked the electrical company? The address is there. Have they gone to investigate? I should not be telling this as they (the MACC) are seasoned investigators,” he said.It was alleged that former Ho Hup Deputy Executive chairperson Vincent Lye, Low’s rival, had sanctioned the payment of the sum from the company’s coffers to finance the renovation.In return, Abdul Gani is alleged to have used his prosecutorial power charge Low in a magistrate’s court with four counts of failing to notify the changes in his interest in the company within seven days. His wife was also being investigated.Abdul Gani has, however, denied owning any bungalow or property in Seremban when posed the question.Low also questioned why Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department VK Liew’s response in Parliament was different from MACC’s.He asked if the MACC is giving different answers to the Deputy Minister or misleading the Minister or Liew himself is misleading Parliament.Liew had fielded Puchong MP Gobind Singh’s questions, saying that the MACC was still mulling over the possibility of investigating claims that Gani had accepted bribes from a construction firm.Low, who is the son of Ho Hup founder the late Low Chee, and the family still hold a substantial stake in the company said the company has also filed several suits against Lye. He added that after lodging the Police reports last month that the commercial crime unit had recorded his statement.Pakatan Rakyat should seriously consider decentralising the powers of the Attorney-General if it is elected into power.At present the AG has sole discretionary powers in commencing criminal prosecution, under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution. The exercise of this discretion has, in the past and of late, become the subject of grave criticism.Some have argued that certain prosecutions were politically-motivated. Others have criticised the A-G for failing to prosecute where criminal acts were obvious and argued quite convincingly that those decisions were likewise motivated, either politically or otherwise.Some instances where prosecution have been criticised include the case involving DAP Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng who came to the defence of an underaged Malaysian girl who alleged that she was sexually violated. Lim was charged with sedition and subsequently imprisoned for 18 months after conviction.Then there is the case of DAP chairperson Karpal Singh, who is currently charged with sedition for merely reiterating a legal opinion.And we could take the case of PAS deputy president Mat Sabu, who has been charged with criminal defamation. His accuser, it is said, openly retracted his complaint against him in court and apologised to him.Recently, we have the charge against PKR’s Rafizi Ramli and another in connection with the National Feedlot Corporation scandal. This is even more disturbing as it smacks of utter disregard on part of the A-G of and concerning the need to protect whistleblowers, thereby thwarting efforts by Parliament to encourage members of the public to take part in the fight against corruption.‘World’s best democracy’ a mockeryThe charges against Rafizi can also be seen as an affront towards the ‘reformist’ Najib Abdul Razak administration. It also makes a complete mockery of the Prime Minister’s promise to make this country “the world’s best democracy”. These are just a few of very many examples.Pakatan Rakyat must, just like it hopes to achieve in all other areas of governance, introduce transparency and accountability into the field of decision-making in the criminal justice system.This may be a somewhat radical departure from the conventional norm but there are compelling reasons justifying its inception.
Some of the suggestions include the setting up of a committee to which complaints can be made when persons are charged or not charged, which will have the power to review decisions of the A-G.It may be important to also consider making it compulsory for this committee to report to Parliament every year, so that there is greater scrutiny and balance in its handling of complaints.Another way would be to legislate to empower courts to determine whether or not certain decisions to prosecute are tainted and therefore liable to be set aside.The reverse would apply where no decision to prosecute is taken when the evidence of an offence and of the perpetrator are overwhelming. The short of it is we must recognise that there is a need for the office of the A-G and his powers to be revamped.At present the AG seems to be cold to criticism. Complaints against him are many but his responses hardly, if any. This is perhaps because the AG is clothed with absolute power under the Federal Constitution.This is the exact mindset that needs to be corrected. The A-G must be put in a position where he can be called upon to explain. Opening his decisions to review will ultimately plant a greater sense of responsibility on his part in the exercise of his duties as the Public Prosecutor.