Is the scene being set to drop all criminal charges against Zahid?

A lot of pressure will be applied to withdraw the Zahid case

Murray Hunter

Money, politics, business, and justice appears to be just as intermingled in the Madani administration, as it has been in previous administrations. Upon becoming prime minister in November last year, Anwar Ibrahim pledged he would fight corruption, without fear or favour. He also said there were no special agreements in regards to pending criminal charges against the deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

However, there remains some scepticism, were many investigations and charges exhibit the trimmings of being political persecution. This is the perception by many over the charging of Muhyiddin Yassin on seven counts of alleged abuse of power and money laundering, over contracts involving Jana Wibawa, during the Covid pandemic.

The retention of Azam Baki as the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) raised eyebrows, as Azam himself has been under criticism over the shares in Global Bhd, he is holding.

Zahid, who is also the president of UMNO, escaped a party election runoff from those who opposed him within the party, by getting the home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to sign off on an exemption of the need to hold any party election for the top two posts in the party. Zahid has been fighting hard to rid himself of all criminal charges against him.

The biggest indication that sometime in the near future Zahid will absolved of all the criminal charges against him, came from an answer to parliament put by PAS leader and MP for Marang, Abdul Hadi Awang. Abdul Hadi had asked whether the government will give and assurance that it will not withdraw any high-profile cases, currently being heard in court.

Law minister Azalina Othman gave a written reply stating that 16 high-profile cases were dropped by the attorney general between 2018-2023. Azalina went on to explain that Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution gives the attorney general the discretion to decide whether to institute, conduct, or discontinue any proceedings for an offense. Azalina went on to outline there are two reasons the attorney general’s chambers may withdraw any case;

1. There are new developments arising in the case, or

2. Representations made by the defence council in relation to the case.

This makes clear, the executive government led by Anwar Ibrahim has the power to drop charges against Zahid. Any final decision upon Zahid would come from a recommendation from the newly appointed head of the prosecution division Manoj Kurup, to the attorney general Idris Harun.

When home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail receives investigation papers on political moves made by elected politicians using the parliamentary process, anything can happen within the Malaysian Prosecution system.

With the relationships involved, and the political importance of keeping the ‘unity government’ in power, a lot of pressure will be applied to decision makers to withdraw the Zahid case.