Hands off VIP court cases, says Umno sec-gen

Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa said on Bernama TV that the independence of the judiciary must be respected. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The newly formed federal coalition should never interfere in court affairs, such as by trying to drop high-profile cases involving their party members, Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa said today.

“If we interfere by withdrawing cases of those charged, the people would say the government does not respect the law and the judicial body is not independent; so, don’t mar that concept,” he told Bernama.

However, Annuar said politically motivated cases where leaders were hauled to court without solid evidence should be stopped.

Annuar did not mention which cases he meant. However, former Umno president and prime minister Najib Razak is currently on trial on a host of charges relating to abuse of power and corruption arising from the 1MDB scandal.

Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor and current Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are also on trial on various charges, while other Umno leaders have been charged with money laundering by accepting money said to be from 1MDB funds.

In tonight’s interview, Annuar urged all parties to respect the concept of separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government: no one should try to mix the legal system with political interests.

“Although the government has changed, the legal system functions as usual…therefore the executive branch cannot interfere…if we respect this concept, there will be no worry.

He was speaking after appearing as a guest panellist together with PPBM policy and strategy bureau chairman Rais Hussin on a Bernama TV current affairs programme tonight.

He said it was up to the newly-installed Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, who to appoint to his cabinet based on his consideration.

“Whether appointed or not, let’s not judge because a person is innocent until proven guilty…I am confident the prime minister will use his wisdom and political experience to choose his cabinet line-up.”

He also said the Muafakat Nasional coalition (between Umno and PAS) has no place for racial chauvinists who only want to champion the interests of their own groups.

“Although this coalition is dominated by the Malays, we should not look after the well-being of only those of one race…the cabinet is only for those who value diversity and joint roles. I am sure the prime minister will have a multi-racial line-up in his cabinet. Insya-Allah Muhyiddin will not choose people with a racist or chauvinistic attitude,” he added.

Muhyiddin took his oath of office as prime minister today. He will head a coalition formed by PPBM, Umno, PAS and others, which has come to be called Perikatan Nasional.

The new coalition came to power after Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned as prime minister following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan coalition caused by the pullout of PPBM.