We need a judicial system with credibility and integrity as well as a sensible populace that will not be easily swayed by rival political stands.
News of Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin’s arrest and prosecution started to spread virally on Wednesday.
The former prime minister, who is also the chairman of PN coalition, is a heavyweight politician in this country. And naturally, rumors of him going to be charged in the court has an instantly explosive effect on the Malaysian society.
Muhyiddin was hauled to the MACC headquarters on Thursday to give his statement, with tons of PN leaders and supporters showing solidarity with him outside.
The MACC confirmed in a statement on the same evening that Muhyiddin was at its headquarters to give his statement in the morning over selective tendering of the Jana Wibawa program and other related issues to help conclude the final stage of investigation.
The statement said he was later arrested and would be brought to the court to face several charges under Section 23 of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
Muhyiddin has thus become the second ex-prime minister of the country to have been charged in a court. Prior to Najib Razak, no former Malaysian prime ministers have been charged in a court after stepping down.
No doubt Najib set the precedent and Muhyiddin is now stepping into his shoes, with the only difference that Najib has been convicted and is now serving his jail sentence while Muhyiddin was charged only Friday morning and is still considered innocent until his conviction.
Muhyiddin is also the third Bersatu leader to have been charged in recent weeks. Last month, the party’s information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan and deputy Segambut chief Adam Radlan were charged for soliciting bribes in the Jana Wibawa case. They both pleaded not guilty.
We have yet to see how the series of prosecutions will impact the Malaysian politics and affect the outcome of upcoming state elections.
Bersatu and PN have accused the authorities of politically motivated “selective prosecution.” Muhyiddin has claimed that Bersatu is a victim of “selective prosecution.”
Bersatu supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah says the “dirty tactic” used against Muhyiddin is related to the coming six state elections.
Bersatu and PN are expected to continue rallying behind Muhyiddin in a show of support. The on-going Bersatu general assembly is set to take the form of a rally in solidarity with the party president.
The “green wave” started during the 15th general election has yet to ebb away, and although the unity government enjoys the support of two-thirds of lawmakers in parliament, its chances in the upcoming state elections are not really that promising, particularly in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.
Generally speaking, the prosecution of a party president will affect the party’s support rate. That being said, if PN has successfully created the image of a “victim” for itself, it could help consolidate its support base to win more votes.
On the contrary, if in the series of prosecutions the self-proclaimed “clean” PN is proven to be just as corrupt, the voters will feel disenchanted and the upcoming state elections might likely tilt towards PH and BN instead.
We have no idea how the voters are going to interpret PN’s prosecutions and whether these are indeed politically motivated, but one thing we can be quite sure is that such incidents will most positively have a major bearing on the country’s political scene.
Additionally, even as these cases could have a major impact on the country’s politics, we need not associate them with politics and assume that everything has its political implications.
On the opposition’s allegation that the whole thing is politically motivated, PM Anwar Ibrahim asserts that he has never interfered in the MACC investigation, urging Malaysians to judge whether the prosecutions are political in nature only after the investigation results have been announced. This means, members of the public must view the cases soberly and sensibly.
It appears that there is this prevailing phenomenon in the Malaysian society that each time an action is taken against a politician, the supporters will invariably believe that the whole thing is politically motivated, and all the chargees will take on the “victims” image.
As a matter of fact, such a perception is wholly unhealthy. We should instead let the evidence speak whether these people are guilty or innocent. The judges will decide whether they are guilty, not political stance.
To improve on this, we indeed need a judicial system with credibility and integrity as well as a sensible populace that will not be easily swayed by rival political stands.