LGE's case: 'Dropping of charges can be seen as morally indefensible'

Norhafzan Jaafar and Esther Landau

KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution’s decision to drop two corruption charges against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng may not be legally wrong, but is seen as morally not right, said Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow (Law and Constitution) Dr Muhammad Fathi Yusof.

He said Attorney-General (A-G) Tommy Thomas had recused himself from handling the case as he was involved in defending Lim.

“He did the right thing by recusing himself as he did not want any conflict of interest charges to be levelled at him,” he said.

“However, there are bound to be questions now that the prosecution has decided to drop the charges instead of allowing the court to decide,” he said.

Constitutional law expert Datuk Dr Wan Ahmad Fauzi Wan Husain said the A-G had absolute power to decide whether a case should be withdrawn.

He said the Attorney-General’s Chamber’s (A-GC) might have its reasons not to continue with the case based on evidence adduced during the course of the trial. “However, people will see the prosecution’s decision in a negative light as this is a high-profile case involving a senior minister.” Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) said there was a need to establish an independent public prosecutor’s office separate from A-GC to clear people’s opinion on the role of A-G.

Bersih 2.0 said there was a lack of coordination between the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and A-GC.

It said the move to increase public confidence in MACC as an independent body should also not be delayed.

“This can be done by making MACC a constitutional body with transparent appointment of its members. This would ensure MACC is free from external interference and does not become a tool of political persecution. “These are the demands that Bersih 2.0 has made since the Bersih 4 rally in 2015. Despite these recommendations being included in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, we have not seen any action being taken by the new government to implement these institutional reform measures.”

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