COMMENT | Civil society demands that the Attorney-General’s Chambers provides a cogent explanation for its decision to drop the corruption charges against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
The Malaysian people had voted for a new Pakatan Harapan government hoping for the reinstatement of a truly independent judicial system, not one that is skewed to protect the government in power.
The Harapan government must be seen to be more principled than the previous BN government, which let at least three of their menteris besar – Harun Idrus, Taib Mahmud and Mohamad Khir Toyo – see their day in court when they were charged with corruption.
Lim’s case is not dissimilar to that of former Selangor menteri besar Khir, who was charged for his purchase of two plots of land and a bungalow in Shah Alam from a company.
Lim was charged in 2016 along with businessperson Phang Li Khoon for abusing his position as the Penang chief minister in approving a land deal, as well as for purchasing a bungalow at below market price.
He is alleged to have abused his power in the rezoning application of two pieces of land from agricultural to public housing by Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd, in which Phang serves as director.
Zero tolerance for corruption
The people expect more from a Harapan government, given its five-point anti-corruption manifesto. On Oct 31, 2017, it vowed to make Malaysia among the 10 "cleanest" countries in the world by the year 2030.
In the manifesto read out by Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Parliament, the alliance announced measures they would take to curb corruption should they take over the government.
Well, this decision by the AGC to drop the corruption charges against Lim, instead of letting him prove his innocence in court, goes smack against this, and lags behind BN’s past record on similar corruption charges against their menteris besar.
Faced with an ethical dilemma – since he was Lim's counsel before the elections and unable to recuse himself from the case – the attorney-general should have picked the only ethical and honourable option, which was to let the court decide.
After all, as the AG, he must have some faith in the judiciary in this country and surely, the Harapan government must do better not worse than the old BN regime?
As it is, the AG’s credibility has slumped to dismal depths and the people’s faith in our justice system has been rudely shaken.
The citizens of this country want to see justice done and to ensure that there is not one set of rules for the poor and another for the rich and powerful – whether the sum involved in the corruption is RM2.6 billion or RM2.6 million.
KUA KIA SOONG is Suaram adviser.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.