Bad week for rule of law and credibility and professionalism of key national institutions like police and judiciary contributing to the “Perfect Storm” confronting Malaysia

This is a bad week for the rule of law and the credibility and professionalism of key national institutions like the police and the judiciary with multiple developments.

I will just cite three instances.

The first is mystery of the sudden and shocking sacking of the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail some two months before his compulsory retirement age and his disappearance from the public domain in the wake of speculation that Gani was on the verge of filing charges against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak for corruption in connection with the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal and that Najib had pre-empted Gani from prosecuting him by summarily sacking him as Attorney-General.

Gani’s sacking was followed by inter-departmental internecine warfare with police arrests of key officials in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Bank Negara and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission which degenerated into an intra-departmental police tussle, involving the No. 2 man in the Police Special Branch, Abdul Hamid Bador.

What is truth and what is fiction?

Some light was glimpsed today when Malaysiakini reported that Abdul Hamid Bador, former Special Branch deputy director, had in an open letter urged Gani to come out into the open to clarify the scandal surrounding the debt ridden 1MDB, which Gani had allegedly said was “crystal clear” before he was unceremoniously sacked.

Relating his last meeting with Gani before the latter was replaced, Hamid said the former AG had been vocal about the case, saying it was “crystal clear” but after his sacking, Gani had “gone silent and totally mute”.

Abdul Hamid asked Gani:

“What has happened to you? There are those who say you have received threats forcing you to back down.

“It is suggested (Gani) had some scandal or misconduct that could be used by them to discredit him in public.

“Come on, Gani! What is a small personal scandal, even if there is such, when compared to the horrific impact the 1MDB fiasco has unto the nation!

“People will easily forgive you. Come out and make a stand. All this while you are idolised as a tough fighter among the civil servants.”

I do not know what scandal Abdul Hamid is referring to, but I would endorse his statement that the people would be forgiving and support his call to Gani to come out of hiding to take a stand on the “horrific impact the 1MDB fiasco has unto the nation” – against which Gani’s “scandal”, if any, would pale into insignificance.

Gani would reach his compulsory retirement age on Oct. 6. Will Gani stand and speak up in the national interest after Tuesday?

The second is the statement yesterday by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar urging the public not to trust media reports regarding a probe by the United States Department of Justice on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, under its Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010.

It is exactly two weeks since the publication by New York Times report raising the serious question whether Malaysia has got a kleptocrat as a Prime Minister.

Is the IGP seriously suggesting that after a fortnight, the Malaysian Government, whether through Royal Malaysian Police, the Foreign Ministry or the powerful and well-funded Prime Minister’s Office, are incapable of establishing the veracity or otherwise of the NYT report?

Khalid advised all those seeking information on the NYT report to direct all enquiries to the US Government.

If Najib could not get a specific “yes” or “no” from the Obama Government, what is the use of the “special relationship” between Najib and US President Obama, particularly Najib’s boast that he is the only prime minister to be able to play golf with Obama (although this claim is being challenged as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key played golf with Obama a year earlier)?

Thirdly, the Court of Appeal’s conflicting decision on Thursday from an earlier Court of Appeal judgment in the Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad case which had ruled that Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) requiring 10 days’ notice to the police for any assembly as unconstitutional.

On May 12, 2015, the Federal Court struck off the Attorney-General’s bid to appeal against the Nik Nazmi acquittal by the Court of Appeal, when the deputy public prosecutor concerned conceded that as the Nik Nazmi case started at a sessions court, the final avenue was at the Court of Appeal.

With the Court of Appeal decision in April last year ruling that the 10 days’ notice required under Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) was unconstitutional, the only proper recourse for the government to reverse the Court of Appeal decision and to require 10-day notice to the police under the PAA was to secure a constitutional amendment to this effect in Parliament – and not by way of a conflicting ruling in the R Yuneswaran case at the Court of Appeal which creates utter confusion as to what is the law on the question.

The Court of Appeal in the Yuneswaran case should be bound by its earlier Nik Nazmi decision and not come out with a conflicting opinion, creating total confusion as there are now two conflicting Court of Appeal rulings on the same point of law in question.

Why has the Court of Appeal departed from the general rule of being bound by its own decisions?

These three events have cast a grave shadow on public confidence on the rule of law and the credibility, professionalism and even legitimacy of key national institutions like the police and the judiciary – contributing to the “perfect storm” which is being formed out of the multitude of political, economic, good governance and nation-building crises to confront the nation.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah