Media Release: Who is Responsible? AGC and MACC need to clarify Acquittal of LGE's charge

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
AGC AND THE MACC OUGHT TO CLARIFY THE SUSPICIOUS FLAGS IN THE ACQUITTAL OF LIM GUAN ENG’S CHARGE

PRESS RELEASE 03 SEPTEMBER 2018

PETALING JAYA (Monday): C4 Center expresses our extreme surprise that Lim Guan Eng was acquitted of his corruption charge by the High Court earlier today. This puzzling turn of events raises questions about how independent government institutions are free from partisan interest in Malaysia, and underscores the need for clarification over the initial charge, and for disciplinary sanction to take place over this turn of events.

“Tan Sri Apandi Ali, was so confident in leading the prosecution of Lim Guan Eng himself. But if the then Attorney General was so certain in the case, how can it be so easily dropped by the High Court today? Either the previous Attorney General was coerced to press charges in court, or the system is always stacked in favour of the existing government.”

Cynthia Gabriel, C4 Center

Today, the High Court of Malaysia acquitted Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng from two corruption charges over an alleged conversion of land status in 2014 and a purchase of a bungalow below market value in 2015.  The Attorney General then, Tan Sri Apandi Ali, appeared in Penang sessions court to press the initial set of charges at the Penang Sesssions Court in 2016, and made statement to the press announcing this move.

C4 Center had earlier highlighted that Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng needs to be cleared of corruption charges before assuming his ministerial post in the name of good governance. The ease of which he was acquitted, even when the prosecution asked for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, raises highly suspicious flags.

C4 Center, as an organisation championing anti-corruption and accountable governance, is concerned that our venerable institutions are subject to political inteference and/or partisan motivations when it comes to corruption.

We are concerned that politicians who have actually betrayed the public trust may be allowed back in to the system, while others may have to suffer from trumped-up charges in the interest of defending political supremacy rather than the public interest.

This development in the Lim Guan Eng case begs transparent explanations from the MACC and the AGC.

“If they’re expressing shock, then they are pushing the responsibility solely to the AG’s chambers. If they believed there was a case, MACC must explain to the public of the initial reasons for recommending charges to be pressed in the first place. We may also need to consider disciplinary sanctions over this imbroglio.”

Cynthia Gabriel, C4 Center

MACC and the Attorney General’s Chambers (acting as public prosecutor) must act without fear of political repercussions, and neither for wish of currying political favour. As a result, the public needs reassurance that the originating evidence and motivations in MACC’s investigation papers are valid.

Otherwise, if the charges are revealed to be politically motivated, then there is a pressing need for greater reform in insulating Malaysian institutions from political inteference. One method, which C4 Center has long been advocating, is by separating the public prosecutor’s office from the attorney general’s purview.

The government and institutions of the day should set precedent by considering disciplinary/punitive action against those responsible for either bringing up spurious, politically-motivated charges, or for allowing the ball to drop on corruption.

Public confidence in the independence of these institutions must be restored, and otherwise, no change from the previous Najib regime who shamelessly trampled upon and compromised these institutions. Urgent steps must be taken to instill independence and  insulate them from partisan politics of the day.

 

Released by:

Cynthia Gabriel (Ms.)
Executive Director, C4 Center