From Andrew S H Tan
On Oct 15, 2019 several media carried a Bernama report with the headline “MACC gets 20 bribery complaints involving judiciary”. The report went on to quote then Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Latheefa Koya as saying that the complaints were under investigation.
At that time, I don’t remember any backlash on the particular news. Did politicians, the Malaysian Bar, Suhakam, and G25 criticise the MACC for investigating corruption among judges?
The fact is, the investigation, prosecution and conviction of judges are not unprecedented. There have been many cases of judges being investigated for corruption, with a number of them also being prosecuted and convicted.
Therefore, this whole backlash against the MACC for investigating Court of Appeal Judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali reeks of hypocrisy.
The G25 group issued a statement questioning if the MACC had carried out a thorough investigation on the credibility of the allegation by blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK), before coming out with its media statement on the investigation on Nazlan.
The group said that it was pertinent to note that the judiciary had stated that it found no reason to suspect the integrity of the judge.
One would not expect the judiciary to suspect the integrity of its own judges readily, or to expect it to investigate its own. Can the judiciary investigate its own judges? For disciplinary or ethical conduct, yes, but for alleged criminal offences like corruption, murder or rape? No, it doesn’t have the powers to do so.
Sorry, but Article 125 of the Federal Constitution does not accord them such powers.
At an event earlier this week, Chief Justice of Malaya Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said that judges are not beyond criticisms, but “the public, including politicians, must not level unfounded and scurrilous attacks against the judiciary to further their own end.”
As she made her defence of the judges, which I totally respect, not once did she say that the MACC had surpassed its powers by investigating a judge, or that the investigation was “unconstitutional” or “unprecedented”.
These are the two words used by Suhakam and G25, and parroted by some politicians over the investigation by the MACC on Nazlan.
If the probe was indeed “unconstitutional” or “unprecedented”, wouldn’t the Chief Justice have mentioned it in her speech? “Unconstitutional” and “unprecedented” are big words that cannot be ignored.
The Malaysian Bar also claimed that Article 125 of the Federal Constitution provides a mechanism for the setting up of a tribunal to assess the misconduct of judges, meaning, judges should not be investigated like ordinary citizens.
However, as some experts have already said, it is clear that Article 125 pertains to the removal of judges due to disciplinary matters and not criminal offences.
So, who is empowered to investigate? Obviously, law enforcement authorities like the MACC and the police. Yes, for better or for worse, they are the entities created to investigate alleged corruption and criminal offences, be it concerning civil servants, MPs, peons or judges.
Talking about MPs, the accusation levelled on the MACC is that it violated the principles of separation of powers among the three institutions, namely the Judiciary, the Legislative and the Executive.
They said it was unconstitutional for MACC to investigate the Judiciary because it was tantamount to interference by the Executive wing into the Judiciary. So, by the same argument, are they saying that the police and MACC cannot investigate MPs too? Because doing so would be interference by the Executive into the Legislative?
Please, let there be no double standards.
According to former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, the MACC probe into the judge is not a violation of the principle of separation of powers as it is clear that the agency’s task is to investigate.
The MACC has also denied that its investigation into Nazlan was based on RPK’s claims in the Malaysia Today portal.
It released a press statement in which it said that the probe was based on formal complaints and reports lodged at MACC over the last month and that it was duty-bound to investigate upon validating them.
So, please allow the MACC to do its job.
MACC probe into SRC, 1MDB
After all, if you remember, it was also the MACC which did an excellent job investigating the SRC International case that helped the High Court to convict former prime minister Najib Razak. This conviction was then upheld by the Court of Appeal.
If the MACC performed shoddy investigations, the courts would have thrown the case out, simple as that.
The SRC and 1MDB cases are very complex cases. As previously reported, the MACC helped to recover over RM20 billion of assets from 1MDB, which was then returned to the people of Malaysia. So, give credit where it is due.
Do you think that after all that work, years of ploughing through thousands of documents, gathering evidence from all over, spending thousands of man-hours to help secure the conviction, the MACC wants to see a retrial if indeed Nazlan was found to be complicit?
No matter how badly we want a certain “shameless boss” to serve his sentence, we cannot ignore the legal processes of the country. If there is any evidence that implicates the judge, it has to be investigated by a competent authority that is set up precisely for this job.
At this moment, only the MACC can clear Nazlan’s name conclusively. If I were him, I would welcome the MACC probe. Because once I am cleared, no one would believe the idiot blogger or any half-witted politician and the groups that echo them.
Andrew S H Tan is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.