PETALING JAYA: Suaram and several of its supporters today lodged police reports against Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob for “interfering” in the investigations against the human rights body by the Companies Commission Malaysia (CCM).
Suaram said Ismail’s statement that the NGO would likely be charged this week was done “in bad faith, interfered and influenced the prosecution process” and meddled in the investigation process of the CCM.
“While investigations are ongoing, the minister came out with a statement that we will be charged. He is pre-empting and usurping the powers of the Attorney-General,” said Suaram executive director E Nalini, who lodged the report this morning.
Seven others who also lodged reports were supporters S Arutchelvan, Masjaliza Hamzah, Heng Kiah Chun, Ekhsan Bukharee Badarul Hisham, A Jayanath, S Barathidasan, and Mandeep Singh.
They hoped that with more reports, police would be pressured into taking action against the federal minister.
“What the minister is saying seems to interfere with a decision that lies solely with the Attorney-General [Abdul Gani Patail]. We need to ensure independence as the AG acts for the people,” said Suaram lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri.
Suaram, in a copy of its report, questioned why Ismail Sabri could make statements when Suaram’s staff were still being interrogated, and investigations were “far from complete”.
It also noted that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had a day later told the media that investigation papers were returned to CCM, ordering it to investigate further.
“This clearly shows that the minister was meddling in the investigations, pressuring CCM by ordering it to charge Suaram even before investigations are complete,” said Fadiah.
“Defaming Suaram has trivialised the whole judicial process and the duty of the AG. With his statement, it is as if the decision to charge has already been made.
“It looks as though it is a political decision and not the result of investigations as a basis to charge Suaram,” she added.
“CCM has no power over Suaram as it is not registered as a society. As such, we are taking action against Suara Inisiatif Rakyat for its misleading accounts,” he said.
The six agencies, which included CCM, Registrar of Societies (ROS), Bank Negara, the Home Ministry and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commissions (MCMC), were not interested in the source of the organisations’ funds, the minister said.
But he said the scope of their investigations would be based on Sections 364(2), 166A(3), 169(14), 167(1), 167(2), and 132(1) of the Companies Act 1965.
Ismail Sabri also said that the final decision as to whether Suara Inisiatif would be charged was with Gani. Yesterday, it was reported that the AG’s Chambers had returned investigation files to CCM seeking additional work.
Since July, Suaram has been facing public scrutiny over its funding and organisational structure, with pro-establishment Malay rights groups demanding to know why Suaram was registered as a company, Suara Inisiatif, with a paid-up capital of RM2.
Suaram’s “independence” was questioned after some quarters revealed that it received funds from foreign countries. Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) and Perkasa accused the NGO of being funded by foreign powers to “destabilise the peace of the country”.
Suaram has consistently denied any wrongdoing and in defence claimed that the timing of the investigations was the direct result of its action in bringing the Scorpene submarine scandal, which implicated Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, to the French courts.
The CCM raided Suaram’s offices on suspicion that it had breached the Companies Act and carrying out activities unrelated to the purpose of its establishment as a business.
It is now being investigated under the five sections of the Companies Act, and could face charges in court with “misleading accounts”. Several government agencies, including the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and Bank Negara, are contemplating action against it within their own jurisdictions.
Since then, over 130 NGOs, which include Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Tenaganita and Sisters in Islam, have since rallied around Suaram, pledging their support.