Rahman: No time good enough to charge Opposition leaders

Abdul-Rahman-DahlanKUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional (BN) Director of Communications Abdul Rahman Dahlan has pointed out that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng heads a state government which has certain documents and witnesses that will be referred to during his trial on corruption charges and hence “he should step aside”.

“The various flimsy excuses given by Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders and their inability to understand the criminal charges against Guan Eng have exposed their lack of principles, their double standards and their inability to walk the talk.”

With this act of “stubbornness and hypocrisy” to defend Guan Eng’s decision not to step aside when facing criminal charges, he added, PH leaders have forfeited the moral right to call for anyone else to step down in future.

Rahman, while conceding that Guan Eng is not in the Federal Government, said it would be a “simplistic excuse” to say that he does not have the authority to interfere in the trial proceedings. “It could turn out to be a situation where witnesses may be required to testify against their boss who’s still in power.”

“Such unnecessary pressure on the witnesses is certainly not conducive to a free and fair trial.”

He said that he “can only marvel at the shoddy excuses given by PH leaders to deny that they practise double standards when justifying why Guan Eng was allowed to stay in his position despite being slapped with two counts of criminal charges”.

For example, he said, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Batu MP Tian Chua gave the reason that “Guan Eng was not in the Federal Government and does not have the authority to interfere in the trial proceedings.”

“This is a simplistic excuse.”

He noted that Nurul Izzah also went on to say that the charges against Guan Eng were a political conspiracy meant to “take out Opposition leaders”.

“If we were to subscribe to this blanket excuse, then this essentially suggests that Opposition leaders who have committed crimes can never be charged, since charging them will always be considered a political conspiracy meant to take them out,” said Rahman.

Amanah Strategy Director Dzulkefly Ahmad’s excuse was no better, he added. “He considers the timing of charging Guan Eng to be suspicious as he says the next general elections are ‘less than two years away’.”

Given Dzulkefly questioning the timing, he said, there would never be a right time to charge any Opposition leader. “If the Attorney- General (AG) were to press the charges next year, then general elections will only be less than one year away, strengthening his suspicions.”

On the other hand, if the AG had filed charges last year, he’s sure they will give the excuse that this was to divert attention from the 1MDB issue.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department recalled that de facto Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s court trials took place in 2014 and 2015. “There was certainly plenty of time for general elections preparations but yet Pakatan still insisted the jailing of Anwar was a political conspiracy.”

“Perhaps, Dzulkefly can suggest what would be the best time to charge an Opposition leader.

In that case, he ventured, the courts and the Attorney-General’s Chambers can be persuaded to adjust their timing to the “preferred schedule”.