ADUN SPEAKS | Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir’s announcement this week that the government will look into setting up a Special High Court and a Special Appeals Court for corruption has been broadly welcome, including Associate Professor Dr. Shmarahayu Abd Aziz, an expert in the constitution.
Malaysia and the whole world has been waiting with bated breath for the trial of the century involving the ex Prime Minister Najib and his wife Rosmah since the change of the government. Billions of money, a mind-numbing number of designer handbags, jaw-dropping extravagance of diamond jewellery, properties, super-yachts, art collection and casino gambling sprees have been meticulously documented in a few bestsellers.
However, the ending of the saga, the final outcome and conviction of the central character MO1 and his wife cannot be written because the trials are yet to begin.
The people of Malaysia are losing patience. The rest of the world is also wondering when the case will go to trial. The defence lawyer has deployed every possible means at his disposal to delay the trials, much to the chagrin of everybody concerned. The postponement of the trial that was due on 12/02/2019 was widely reported around the world. Such was the eagerness of the attention on the 1MDB saga.
Subsequently, a “dog” of the defence lawyer also managed to stop the trial from proceeding. These incidents clearly showed the abuse of the legal process by the defence lawyers who could easily exploit and manipulate rules and regulations to their advantage. On the reverse, the authority and the credibility of the prosecution is being chipped away slowly.
As a consequence, Najib (photo, below) has been emboldened by the fact he may never go to jail. He felt no shame or regret and even made popular his rallying cry, “Apa Malu Bossku!”. Jail and disgrace are the last things on his mind now when he goes on the charm offensive to regain power in 2023.
As perverse as it could be, Malaysians have started to follow him on social media as he appears to have performed the ultimate Houdini’s escape from jail. He seems to be coming out totally unscathed from the strong arms of the law despite causing the biggest financial scandal the world had ever seen.
His miraculous transformation has had a very frightening effect on the country. Now all the corrupted officers and politicians are breathing sighs of relief. Courts are there, but not for them. Even if they were caught with an unimaginable amount of cash in their houses or bank accounts, they can employ the best lawyers available out there, and they can escape justice easily for a very long time.
They may even turn the table on the government. If they were convicted and given a 30 year jail-term, they could be so old that they may end up spending less than 10 years behind bars.
Now those who should be running for cover are calmly planning their return to power. There is nothing to lose, nothing to be fear, and nothing to be ashamed of. What was shocking was our university students were unashamedly organizing events to “Meet the Boss”.
We know Malaysia has problems dealing with a huge number of corruption cases. Last year the Finance Minister announced an 18.5 percent increase in allocation in budget 2019 for MACC to RM286.8 million, from the year before. The government also allowed for MACC staffing to be increased by 100 personnel.
Prime Minister launched the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) on January 29. More cases are expected to be hauled up to court. Already Najib has 42 counts of charges, Zahid (photo, below) has 45 charges, Rosmah has 17 charges, Abdul Azeez has 12 charges, Isa Samad has 10 charges, and the list goes on and on.
So if Najib takes four to five years to complete the initial charges, it may take more than 10 years for the huge number of corruption cases of the BN era to be cleared. Much evidence and witnesses could be lost. There may be acquittals in cases. The guilty wrongdoers may even pass away without ever being punished.
Malaysians, who voted for change, may not live to see justice done. The worst outcome is if all these cases are dismissed with another change of the government. Unless there is total independence of the judiciary with absolute freedom from political interference in the future.
As we now have an independent MACC beefed up to implement the National Anti-Corruption Plan, it is only proper that there should be a Special High Court and a Special Appeals Court to expedite cases.
Corruption is the mother of all government evils and must be tackled with utmost priority. Justice must be robust, but swift. Ridiculous excuses and requests to postpone scheduled proceedings should be rejected.
The people of Malaysia want to see strictest action taken as swiftly as possible without denying the accused a fair hearing. Justice delayed could be justice denied. Malaysian people wish to see the corrupted behind bars and will give the government their utmost support to set up the proposed special courts. The shameless thieves should regret ever stealing people’s money.
KO CHUNG SEN is the Kepayang assemblyoerson.The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.