Apandi’s argument is flawed


By Dzulkefly Ahmad

A-G Apandi Ali and PAS president Hadi Awang represent the hardest stumbling blocks in the initiation of any effective legal proceeding to get to the bottom of the 1MDB fiasco.

After writing the piece ‘Scandalous that AG not acting on DoJ’s 1MDB revelation’, (June 20, 2017), l really didn’t think that I’d have to pen another piece so soon.

But the most recent statement by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali was simply outlandish. The open letter of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang was surely another, purporting foreign interference in the1MDB fiasco, aided by locals. I’ve been particularly restrained during Ramadan.

But in the best interest of the nation that we all love, and of Islam whose ultimate objective of justice many claim to fight for but evidently later “hijack”, l feel compelled to engage again.

The AG had earlier exonerated Prime Minister Najib Razak of any wrongdoing in relation to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), and now seems to have sort of upped the ante.

Hadi called for four witnesses if the prime minister were ever to be convicted, which seems to outdo the AG and lend backhanded credence to the PM.

I am of the opinion that they both represent the hardest stumbling blocks in the initiation of any effective legal proceeding that could get to the bottom of the “heist of the century” involving 1MDB.

Last Tuesday ( June 27) Bernama reported that the AG had said the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) forfeiture civil suit was “politically motivated”. This was because “the DoJ had never made any official request to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to obtain clarification or information on the claim they made”.

It is my opinion that Apandi’s argument is flawed, much as it borders on dishonesty or half-truth. Apandi also said, “The actions of the DoJ are also believed to be based on information given by certain individuals from Malaysia.” This is outrightly despicable and triggers a witch-haunt of sorts.

Apandi could be accused of deliberately misleading the Malaysian public, or is he truly oblivious to the facts of the matter? Yes, he could very well have not read the 251 pages of the third complaint of the DoJ!

On page 7 of the complaint, it is categorically stated under the heading of the “Nature of the Action” that…

“This is a civil action ‘in rem’ (Latin words in talic) to forfeit assets involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1-MDB)…”

The word “in rem” is repeated in so many places, as it was in the earlier complaints, that it made me question its significance. Admittedly, not much has been said about it.

Simply put, “judgment in rem” means that the court action is meant to make judgement on the “category of things” and not based on persons or individuals (judgment in personam).

The “category of things or property” here refers to all those items or assets identified, to be forfeited by the court, purchased through the ill-gotten or embezzled money from 1MDB, located within the court’s jurisdiction.

An action “in rem” takes no notice of the (original) owner of the property. The object of the lawsuit is to determine the disposition of the assets (properties), regardless of who the owner is or who else might have an interest in it.

Hence, the AG should know full well that they may very well not be consulted or referred to. Apandi should be more concerned as to how 1MDB’s money got embezzled far and wide across the globe and into these jurisdictions.

Hence, many wouldn’t disagree that it is in fact the AG who has unmistakably “politicised” this legal proceeding of the forfeiture of assets. Never mind him giving the Swiss AG’s Chamber the “cold shoulder” over a Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request on two occasions. Why whine now?

As for the PAS president’s open letter about wanting to get the Malaysian courts to resolve the 1MDB problem and not to allow for “foreign meddling” in our internal affairs, it is misplaced and smacks of ignorance of the actual legal proceedings.

That the DoJ is using its kleptocracy (asset recovery initiative) procedure to get back all the money stolen from 1MDB and spent in the US, should auger well for all Malaysians.

With all due respect, Hadi is apparently at a loss on this. The open letter admonishes Malaysians to remain patient and steadfast and never to allow foreign meddling. That Malaysia has become a global kleptocracy, involving foreign and international conspirators matters least to him!

To the more alert lay public, Hadi presents himself as an unrelenting defender of kleptocracy. Hadi’s anti-western rhetoric, coupled with Umno information chief Anuar Musa’s narrative of subversion of a Muslim-led government, finds natural traction in this already deepening racially and religiously divided society. The Malay-Muslim constituency urgently requires a new narrative on Malay-Muslim leadership. Umno-Pas is in a time warp!

That the AG and religious leaders such as Hadi are a stumbling block to debunking kleptocracy is surely an understatement.

The rakyat must wait for the “Apex Court of the People”, ie the 14th General Election, to conclusively defeat the defenders of kleptocracy for reform and change to triumph and thrive.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad is strategy director of Amanah.

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