Yesterday, 1 September, was a good day!
I had an entertaining, uplifting and satisfying afternoon following the developments in former ‘FLOM’ (the so-called ‘first lady of Malaysia’) Rosmah Mansor’s corruption case involving a RM1.25bn solar hybrid energy project.
Thank God for social media and diligent news outlets that provided live coverage of the Kuala Lumpur High Court proceedings. I was literally flitting from one source to another as I followed the drama unfolding in court.
While everyone’s focus must have been on the much-awaited verdict of trial judge Zaini Mazlan, I was taken up by the words spoken by the various actors in this drama, as reported by outlets such as BFM News and Malaysiakini, especially over Twitter. While some were uplifting and admirable, others were incredulous, incredible and even amusing.
So, let me just share some of them here.
It was so uplifting to hear Justice Zaini say, “We are not here to be popular or make popular decisions. Like all my other cases, the decision for a case is based on facts and law. Whatever personal feelings we have, we leave them at the door once we step onto the bench.”
This is the essence of the concept of the independence of the judiciary – it made my heart sing! With people like him in our judiciary, our struggle for a better Malaysia will be easier, don’t you think?
This learned judge definitely knows how to keep calm and carry on. He delivered his verdict after dismissing a last-minute application by Rosmah for him to recuse himself. This was following allegations of a leaked judgment against her, purportedly written by someone other than the judge.
Justice Zaini quipped, “Sorry to keep everyone waiting. I can’t find anyone to write my judgment and have to write it myself.”
Cutting wit that must have caught its target, I’m sure!
Jagjit Singh, Rosmah’s lawyer, was incredulous. He didn’t want to call a spade a spade but would rather call it “garden equipment”, so as not to sound “contentious”.
So, was it actually a spade, then? So sad that he had come “all geared up, pent up, hyped like an unruly horse, only to find the wind taken away from the sail”.
It was generous of him to declare that there is some goodness in people, no matter how bad they are, “as taught by religion” – in defence of the fugitive journalist Raja Petra Kamarudin, no less.
But what I found truly incredulous was what Jagjit said in his mitigation for Rosmah – that she is the “lawful wife” of the former PM, that this was the “first time she has been faced with any offence of any nature”, that she had an “unblemished character” and was a “victim of circumstances”.
On sentencing, Jagjit not only asked for one day’s imprisonment, but actually said that “the accused has never been in any employment, never received any salary or worked, but rendered services voluntarily to society. How she is going to raise the money, we will have to pray for divine help.”
Seriously?! I found this aggravating rather than mitigating. But, alas, I guess he was just doing what he was paid to do. Is this what they mean by ‘fiduciary duty’? But then, what about his duty to the court and profession, I wonder?
Rosmah’s reactions and pleadings sounded amusing. It seems she muttered, “Might as well kill me,” on hearing the prosecution submitting for a maximum sentence. Poor thing! She tearfully mitigated for herself, pleading for compassion. “I am a victim in all of this.”
That seems to be the standard lament of the accused now in all the high-profile cases brought to court.
As if to prove her point, Rosmah maintained: “Nobody saw me taking the money, nobody saw me counting the money.”
The written judgment stated that “the accused gave instructions to Najib on government affairs. Her tone was commanding … it is apparent that the accused dominates Najib….”
But Rosmah insisted that every time she opened her mouth, her husband would always say, “Rosmah, you are just my wife, don’t interfere”!
Now, where’s that audio recording? Can someone advise her something, please?!
Retired Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram was incredible as senior deputy prosecutor, despite the many attempts to disqualify him from prosecuting these high-profile corruption cases; it’s no wonder they fear him! He graciously deflected personal credit by attributing all the good work to his team and the Malaysian Anti-corruption Commission.
“The purpose of this conviction is to send a message to would be offenders to stop in their tracks as corruption is the vilest disease that can attack society,” Sri Ram said. And lest we forget, as the learned advocate stated, “Justice is not only to the accused, it is also to the state.”
Hopefully, this message is heard loud and clear by all Malaysians, especially those in authority, though much more needs to be done at the institutional and societal level to eradicate the disease.
Yes, 1 September was a good day. So, while we can often be dragged down by all that’s gone wrong in Malaysia, leaving many feeling angry and hopeless even, let’s celebrate these little victories and savour the sense of hope they give.