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Bersih: Guan Eng's case signals need to expedite MACC, AGC reforms

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Bersih has called for the expediting of reforms to the Attorney-General's Chambers and the MACC following concerns surrounding the decision to drop the prosecution against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for allegedly purchasing a bungalow at below market value.

The Bersih steering committee said while there was suspicion of political motivation in the initial charge against Lim, his sudden acquittal has led to another concern of whether the executive had interfered to have the case dropped.

Bersih noted that while the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had clarified that attorney-general Tommy Thomas had recused himself from the case and the decision to drop the charge was done by the prosecution, reforms should be implemented immediately to address suspicions.

"The case once again indicates the urgent need for an independent public prosecutor’s office to be established and separated from the attorney-general's office as soon as possible to clear public suspicion of the role of attorney-general, who acts as a legal adviser of the executive branch of the government, in influencing the prosecution decision.

"Public confidence in the MACC as a truly independent body should also not be delayed any longer. This can be made by making the anti-corruption body a constitutional body with transparent and credible appointment of its members.

"This would ensure the anti-corruption body is free from external interference and does not become a tool of political persecution against political enemies," the electoral reform coalition said in a statement today.

On Monday, the prosecution had applied to the High Court in Penang for a discharge not amounting to acquittal against Lim.

However, Lim's legal team argued that he should receive a discharge and acquittal, to which the judge agreed.

The prosecution said it decided to drop the case as the evidence had been weakened after witnesses were cross-examined.

Bersih stressed that the government needs to immediately implement the reforms to the AGC and the MACC to restore public confidence.

"Bersih reiterates our calls and urges the Pakatan Harapan government to start taking actions to implement these recommendations without further delays.

"This is the only way for the new government to convince the public that it has the political will and is committed to institutional reforms that it promised to the voters," it said.

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