The Malaysian Bar stresses that the public has the right to know the detailed explanation behind discharge not amounting to acquittal applications or withdrawal of charges in matters pertaining to public interest.
It was reported on 7 December 2020 that the High Court had granted the former Federal Territories minister, Tengku Adnan Mansor, a discharge not amounting to acquittal in relation to a RM1m corruption case, where he was charged under Section 24(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act.
The prosecution applied for a discharge not amounting to acquittal as there were apparently new developments in the case. The trial of Tengku Adnan was scheduled to resume on 7 December.
In light of the above, the Malaysian Bar calls on the Attorney General’s Chambers to provide the detailed grounds of this “new development” on which the discharge not amounting to acquittal application is premised on.
The application raises questions on the investigations at this stage, right before the resumption of Tengku Adnan’s trial. It is also very concerning that no timeframe on further investigating this “new development” has been provided.
We take the view that the public prosecutor, in the exercise of his constitutional powers and discretion to discontinue a prosecution in such a high-profile case, needs to provide valid, rational and cogent reasons for his decision.
The wide discretionary powers held by the public prosecutor in criminal proceedings must be comprehensively deliberated on and weighed against the rule of law.
The Malaysian Bar therefore stresses that the public has the right to know the detailed explanation behind discharge not amounting to acquittal applications or withdrawal of charges in matters pertaining to public interest.
Salim Bashir is president of the Malaysian Bar
This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.