3:41pm 15/09/2023
One man’s DNAA offers a glimpse into the PM’s DNA
By:Chan Aun Kuang / Sin Chew Daily

Even if the separation of powers is effectuated, so long as the prosecutor is still appointed by the prime minister and is empowered to halt and discharge any case at his free will without having to answer to anyone, things will go back to square one, unable to rehabilitate the cancerous democratic and judicial DNA activated by the one man holding the absolute power.

Syed Saddiq’s abrupt pull-out from the Unity Government is not wholly unexpected.

But, to gauge the reactions of politicians, we will have to first see from whom they come.

The second- or even third-tier figures in the Unity Government who could only accept people agreeing with them have seized the opportunity, or have rather been instructed, to exert pressure on the young MUDA president to surrender his parliament seat.

Well, that can be fully understood, or else how are these people going to demonstrate their loyalty to party and move up the hierarchical ladder?

To such politicians, those agreeing with them are hailed as progressive and liberal, while those going against their will must be hammered at all costs. They have simply relinquished the principle of serving the rakyat in total objectivity.

If you must hear what the people really feel, you will have to go into the streets and alleys, and coffee shops, especially those in Muar.

Syed Saddiq has been given the cold shoulder by the Anwar administration for months, and the Zahid DNAA naturally becomes the straw that broke the camel’s back, giving the young man a rare chance to put himself on high moral ground to flare his temper, hardly 24 hours after Amanah won the by-election in Pulai allowing the Unity Government to retain its precarious two-thirds majority in parliament.

In the dual by-elections in Johor, there have been varied interpretations of the PH-BN victory from the massive support of relatively moderate Bangsa Johor. And the most creative is none other than the BN chairman cum Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi himself, who claimed the by-elections were akin to a referendum on his DNAA.

Such a self-hypnotic reasoning, unfortunately, could constitute a major misjudgment.

Syed-Saddiq’s pursuers in the Unity Government should at best distance themselves from such misjudgment.

Lest we forget, having tasted the intoxicating sweet success of Johor state election early last year, Ahmad Zahid and his lackeys in Umno hastened then prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to dissolve the parliament to pave way for the general election.

And we all know what happened to the party in that election owing to an overly confident misjudgment.

The reason offered by Syed Saddiq for his torn relationship with the Unity Government could have sounded absolutely convincing — Ahmad Zahid’s DNAA (discharge not amounting to an acquittal).

From September 4 until this very moment, from the AG Chambers to the Unity Government, and even Anwar Ibrahim himself, the more they have attempted to explain, the more confusion has been spawned and the more they find themselves under unrelenting and continuous criticism.

And now, it is the Special Select Committee’s turn to summon the former and current Attorneys-General for a hearing. Let’s just wait and see how the Unity Government is going to patch up this fatal PR disaster.

The endless stream of reprovals and censures that has stormed the Unity Government over the past two weeks pale by comparison to a decisive move by the young Syed Saddiq in conveying a powerful message without having to sink the nation to yet another catastrophic political turmoil.

Different people have their own interpretations as to why a DNAA was granted to the deputy prime minister.

But compared to other senior leaders in the Anwar administration, including the PM himself, the most candid must have been DAP’s policy bureau chief Chan Foong Hin, who admitted that Ahmad Zahid was freed of all his charges because “we don’t have the numbers.”

What does that tell? From the political-business-judicial collusion during Mahathir’s time (still remember a prominent lawyer’s “correct, correct, correct” quote?) to the globally notorious 1MDB case in more recent years, political intervention in judicial proceedings has been deeply implanted into the DNA of those in power to either firm up or salvage their flagging hold to power.

In his highly controversial book “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness,” former AG Tommy Thomas mentioned that he had published an article in a Malaysian Bar publication in 1983 titled “The Attorney General: The Most Powerful Person in Malaysia.

From what he wrote in his book, we could see that the 1983 article was targeting specifically then AG Abu Talib Othman.

Thomas was completely unapologetic in expressing his abhorrence and contempt towards Abu Talib!

During those years, the headlining of such narration by the legal fraternity and court reporters was very positively an affirmative fact and not a question mark.

Almost four decades on, Thomas wrote in his book that the headline of his earlier article was very seditious but in actuality was ironical in its connotation because the AG’s office was generously gifted with huge powers by the country’s Constitution and law.

An irrefutable political reality is, the AG is appointed by the prime minister, and could therefore be dismissed by the PM any time!

Theoretically, the AG has the power to prosecute the prime minister, but the latter also has the right to dismiss him. A fact that we have all witnessed is this: whoever that acts first will have the last laugh.

July 27, 2015, at a time the 1MDB scandal was dominating the local media, then AG Abdul Gani Patail was suddenly “replaced,” and the official reason offered by then PM Najib Razak was that the AG had health problems. But ironically, Abdul Gani returned to practice law upon admission to the Malaysian Bar barely 17 months later.

Given the previous instances of political intervention, the authorities should not feel wronged if Malaysians choose not to believe in the official reasons for the discharge of Ahmad Zahid, including those from the PM.

In a similar manner, the AGC under Timmy Thomas who was appointed by Tun Mahathir, also granted DNAA which until this day still embarrasses many in DAP, citing reasons that no right-minded Malaysian would have believed.

This also explains why when Mahathir suddenly resigned in 2020, Thomas almost instantly quit his job because he was very sure that this position was politically appointed, and he wouldn’t want to wait for his dismissal by the new PM.

Simply put, the objective truth that “PM is the most powerful man in this country” has never changed. But, it will be equally tough for Anwar to immediately instruct the newly minted AG to once again prosecute Ahmad Zahid, as doing so will only make the whole judicial proceeding look like a joke, unless the former AG willingly confesses his negligence in handling this matter and is prepared to bear all the consequences. Of course, this is hope against hope!

Thanks to Zahid’s DNAA, calls for the devolution of AG’s powers from government civil and criminal litigation have again picked up momentum.

As a matter of fact, minister in the PM’s department Azalina Othman Said has already started doing it, but as this entails a highly complicated ramification of interests and agencies, and will eventually need to be tabled in parliament to amend the relevant clauses in the Constitution, cooperation between the ruling and opposition coalitions is required to get it off the ground.

Even if the separation of powers is effectuated, so long as the prosecutor is still appointed by the prime minister and is empowered to halt and discharge any case at his free will without having to answer to anyone, things will go back to square one, unable to rehabilitate the cancerous democratic and judicial DNA activated by the one man holding the absolute power.

The Unity Government needs to tread cautiously if it is serious about reforming this chronic judicial malady.


Anwar Ibrahim
Syed Saddiq
Ahmad Zahid
unity government


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