Musa disappointed but respects court ruling on withholding passport

Former Sabah CM Musa Aman says the presumption of innocence is not just a legal right but is also a fundamental human right.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman today expressed disappointment with the High Court’s decision not to release his passport to allow him to travel overseas for medical treatment, but said he respected it anyway.

Musa, 68, said the High Court decision, made earlier in the day, would deny him his right to seek medical treatment from doctors in Singapore and the United Kingdom.

In his ruling, High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said there was no suggestion by Musa that he could only be treated in Singapore and the UK.

Reversing an order given by Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob, he said Musa was “merely seeking to be treated by the doctors of his choice”.

He felt that the ailment Musa was suffering from could be attended to by doctors in Malaysia.

Musa had claimed trial in November last year to 35 corruption charges related to timber concessions, brought under the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.

The offences were said to have been committed 10 to 14 years ago in Singapore and in Hong Kong, with transactions ranging from US$28,500 to US$16,148,547, amounting to a total of RM263 million.

Commenting on the High Court ruling, Musa said that “while I do not agree with the decision, I have to respect it”.

“It is a fundamental aspect of the criminal justice system that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

“The presumption of innocence is not just a legal right but is also a fundamental human right,” he said in a statement here.

In this respect, he could not help but feel that he had been presumed guilty even though it had not been proven otherwise.

Musa said his medical treatment started in the UK last year as a follow-up to the treatment with the doctor of his choice in Singapore, who had been treating him for more than 22 years.

“This was allowed by the Sessions Court judge earlier who understood the merits of my request. But, unfortunately, on revision, the High Court judge denied it.

“I have always put my trust in the rule of law and I believe that no one should be deprived the right to seek and continue medical treatment by the doctor of his choice, especially when treatment has started and it does not interfere with the court proceedings.

“Surely, this should not and cannot be the right position,” he said.

Stressing that he was not a flight risk, Musa said the issue of running away or evading the authorities did not arise at all.

“I came back in August 2018, against my doctor’s advice, to assist the authorities and perform the duties as an assemblyman.

“To date, I have given my full cooperation and informed the authorities, including the MACC, even while I was abroad seeking medical treatment and immediately upon returning to the country.”

Musa said he would notify his doctors in Singapore and the UK of today’s court decision.

“I will seek their advice and consult my lawyers on the next course of action,” he added.