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AG, rescind decision, charge Riza; no escape route for thieves!

A royal commission of inquiry into the judiciary is needed

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Malaysians are utterly disappointed with the attorney general and feel that he had not represented the best interest of the people in this case, P Ramakrishnan writes.

When the person-in-the-street is upset over the discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) of Riza Aziz, he can be easily dismissed as someone not knowing the law or having no knowledge of how the judicial system works.

But when those who have read the law and who are respected and recognised as the legal luminaries of the land become troubled over what has happened with regard to Riza’s five money-laundering charges and the ease with which he got his DNAA, it becomes a very serious matter. It rings alarm bells.

The eight past presidents of the Malaysian Bar, without mincing their words, have stated very bluntly:

“The information provided thus far gives the impression that there are no good reasons for the withdrawal of the charges and the discontinuance of the prosecution.

“It is indefensible and outrageous to allow an accused person to buy himself out of a serious criminal offence. It is an abuse of process that would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

It is unprecedented for eight ex-Bar presidents to agree and actually sign a joint statement. Earlier on, only five ex-Bar presidents signed a previous statement. That something is amiss is very obvious since the five were later joined by three other ex-Bar presidents to sign a subsequent joint statement.

In all humility, I salute these eight ex-Bar presidents for standing up to tell all Malaysians that something is wrong with the prosecution’s deal for Riza to be granted a DNAA.

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If these learned legal experts are “perplexed” and unable to see the rational for Riza’s DNAA, is it any wonder that the lay person is horrified that our judicial system is so irrational in allowing a person criminally charged for money laundering to walk away free. It is absurd, to put it mildly! Please note that a DNAA comes with prior guilt affixed. Nothing in the deal tells us anything about guilt being attached.

The attorney general, in avoiding responsibility for this ridiculous decision, is pointing his fingers elsewhere. He mentions that the former Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, had “agreed in principle” and that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had advised this course of action.

But what was the personal decision of the incumbent attorney general as the ultimate authority in deciding the outcome of a case that was pending in court? He is the final authority. Action is taken in his name. The course of action is determined by his decision – not that of anyone else.

Doesn’t the buck stop at the attorney general’s desk? When that happens, he is solely responsible for whatever decision taken. He cannot pin the blame on some scapegoat in order to shirk his responsibility.

The attorney general is obliged to provide his reasons for the DNAA. After all, he was acting on behalf of the people. What was the compelling reason to provide this escape route for Riza? We, the people, demand to know! That exclamation mark denotes public anger.

According to the statement by the past Bar presidents, “The decision of the AG must therefore be supported by valid, rational and cogent reasons. The media release by the AG does not provide such reasons, and it does not therefore satisfy the requirements of accountability.”

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It is reported that Judge Azman Ahmad, rightly, allowed the application by ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram on grounds that an agreement had been reached under which the accused would repay a portion of the money to the federal government. Believe me, the judge acted in accordance with the law since he must accept the bargain.

Gopal Sri Ram, the ad-hoc prosecutor, merely stated that “an agreement had been reached” without mentioning who from the Attorney General’s Chambers negotiated this agreement. Was this person authorised by the attorney general to negotiate? Having negotiated the agreement, was this decision referred to the attorney general for his final decision?

It is also a matter of grave concern that the terms of the agreement are not made known to the people. If he is acting on behalf of the people, doesn’t he owe it to the people to disclose the terms reached? Shouldn’t the people be satisfied that it was the correct decision which is beneficial to the nation? Why operate under a cloak of secrecy?

Malaysians are utterly disappointed with the attorney general and feel that he had not represented the best interest of the people in this case. We feel terribly let down by the attorney general.

The lay persons may not know the law but they know what is right and wrong. They are convinced that what the attorney general did was wrong, especially when Riza had struck an earlier deal with the US Department of Justice.

We cannot depend on the politicians to right the wrong. They are far too consumed with their greed and avarice to be bothered by what is right and wrong.

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We have reason to be disappointed with the way the judicial system may have been abused. To be frank and not speaking about this instant case, we sometimes find certain court decisions startling and bewildering!

So, it is left to the person-in-the-street to bring about change as was done in GE14 on 9 May 2018 so courageously. We need to rise up again and protest peacefully. Let a hundred thousand thinking, feeling and caring Malaysians sign this petition below to send home the message that they didn’t approve the attorney general’s decision to allow Riza to “walk away” in the grand style of Matt Monro.

In signing this petition, we the people demand that, if possible, this decision to discharge Rizal be rescinded forthwith. We further demand that Rizal be charged in court. We condemn this sinister attempt to create possible escape routes for other thieves facing criminal charges.

Let’s be inspired by this saying of Haitian democracy activist Jean Dominique: “You cannot kill the truth. You cannot kill justice. You cannot kill what we are fighting for.”

Let’s sign this petition:

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