All kleptocrats must be put on trial without political interference

COMMENT: We, the undersigned NGOs, CSOs and community leaders in Sabah have for a long time, and until today, been working alongside government efforts to develop the State for the benefit of all Sabahans. We are deeply concerned with recent developments in the political arena which appears to rollback, erode and work against the democratic principles and institutions and rule of law of our country.

Of direct and major concern to many Sabahans is the acquittal of the former Chief Minister of Sabah, Musa Aman by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on 9 June 2020 of all 46 corruption charges. Like ordinary Sabahans, we cannot help but be confused and appalled at the way the case has unfolded since the start of the case in 2012, and we note with great concern the unsatisfactory explanations given by those mandated to uphold the rule of law in the country including the Attorney General.

The case could have been allowed to go on trial instead of the prosecution applying to withdraw the charges. This is especially true when the prosecution had already extensively prepared for the trial and was ready to call 40 to 50 witnesses to testify. The explanation given by the Attorney General that the prosecution lacks the documentary evidence to carry on with the case is indeed perplexing.

The net effect of this disturbing trend of events on the ordinary citizens is clear – distrust and cynicism towards our political leaders and institutions, including the judiciary. To the rakyat our legal system is being seen to practice double standards, one for ordinary citizens and the other for VIPs. This is the same system that sentenced a man who stole “petai” to 15 months of jail and a single mum who broke COVID-19’s Movement Control Order (MCO) rules to buy essential goods to RM1,000 and 30 days jail. VIPs and VVIPs with multiple charges of corruption, money-laundering and other offences are seen to go scot-free or receive lighter sentences. The rakyat comes away with the impression that the rule of law only applies to them and not to those in power.

The government cannot expect the ordinary rakyat to give our best to nation building, foregoing individual gains and benefits for the sake of the greater good of the community and our country when the government is seen to be doing the opposite. We need the government to lead by walking the talk, with accountability and transparency and to uphold the rule of law.

Therefore, we call upon:

  1. The Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muyihuddin to:
    • Ensure no misuse of public resources including taxpayers’ money and to uphold accountability and transparency in the management of the country, including the trials of high-public interest cases such as corruption and money-laundering involving politicians and public servants.
    • Set up a thorough and independent inquiry to investigate if political proximity of Musa Aman to UMNO has played a role in influencing the acquittal judgment.
    • Table the Political Financing Act at the next Parliamentary session in July. We understand that a draft bill on political financing was already in the process of being drafted. It is of utmost importance now for the government to table the bill as political corruption is a major issue in Malaysia.
  2. We call upon the Attorney General to appeal against the Court’s decision of discharging and acquitting (DAA) Musa on all 46 charges as this would mean that all these charges against Musa can never again be revisited when new evidence surfaces. The AG should appeal for the discharge not to amount to Musa’s acquittal (DNAA), as a full acquittal of Musa at this juncture (where merits have not been heard by the Court) would close the door to justice forever!
  3. We call upon the MACC to live up to its role in enforcing the law and carrying out their duty fiercely. The MACC must be independent and perform their duties to this country without fear or favor.

Justice must truly prevail and all kleptocrats must be on trial through an open, independent and fair process.

Endorsed by the following NGO, CSO and community leaders of Sabah:-

1. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
2. Pangrok Sulap
3. Society for Equality, Respect and Trust for all Sabah (SERATA)
4. BENTARAKATA
5. Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS Trust)
6. Borneo Komrad
7. Advocates to Non-discrimination and Access to Knowledge (ANAK)
8. Bersih Sabah
9. Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA)
10. Sabah Human Rights Center
11. Persatuan Suara Saksama Sabah
12. Kelab Kesenian Asylum Kota Kinabalu
13. Local support group against Domestic Violence in Pitas
14. Local support group against Domestic Violence in Kota Marudu
15. Local support group against Domestic Violence in Telupid
16. Local support group against Domestic Violence in Keningau
17. Local support group against Domestic Violence in Kota Kinabalu
18. Local support group against Domestic Violence in Pensiangan
19. People’s Organisation Kg. Mentadak Baru Pulau Sebatik Tawau
20. People’s Organisation Kg. Bobotong Entilibon
21. People’s Organisation Kg. Kalampun, Keningau
22. People’s Organisation Kg. Tinangol Matunggong, Kudat
23. People’s Organisation Kg. Datong, Pitas
24. People’s Organisation Kg. Tambatuon, Kota Belud
25. People’s Organisation Kg. Maliau, Tongod
26. People’s Organisation Kg. Liu, Pitas
27. People’s Organisation Kg. Samparita Laut, Pitas
28. People’s Organisation Kg. Angkawangan, Keningau
29. People’s Organisation Kg. Kipouvo, Penampang
30. People’s Organisation Kg. Terian, Penampang
31. People’s Organisation Kg. Ampungoi Kanibungan, Pitas
32. People’s Organisation Kg. Balantos, Nabawan
33. People’s Organisation Kg. Bulud Batu, Pitas
34. People’s Organisation Kg. Balaron Sapulut, Nabawan
35. People’s Organisation Kg. Tungku, Lahad Datu
36. People’s Organisation Bundu Apin-Apin, Keningau
37. Task Force Against Kaiduan/Papar Dam (TAKaD Ulu Papar)
38. Coalition Committee for Land Management G7, Tongod
39. Coalition 6Kg. (G6 Pitas)
40. Coalition 3Kg. (G3 Simpudu)
41. Coalition 3Kg. MAWASI