PM can’t direct police, MACC to investigate

“The statements can be seen as political interference, and when the same matter is repeated at every opportunity, it gives the impression that the investigations are conducted due to the Prime Minister’s directives.

(NST) – Despite holding executive powers, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim can’t issue statements that may be construed as directives to law enforcement agencies for taking legal actions such as investigations into criminal cases or corruption.

Senior lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla has described the three warnings issued by the Prime Minister in Kelantan yesterday as an abuse of power and interference in law enforcement agencies like the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

He said that while Anwar has executive authority, it does not extend to the implementation of legal actions in the country.

“In cases of criminal misconduct, the process starts with the first complaint filed by the victim or involved parties (such as agencies or ministries) to the respective authorities. For violent crimes, the complaint goes to PDRM, while for corruption cases, the complaint is directed to MACC.

“Both Police and MACC must conduct investigations without any interference from any party, including the government at the time.

“When a Prime Minister issues a warning (asking for return of stolen assets or being ready for investigation), it can be seen as interference and may lead to the abuse of power. Even under the MACC Act, this can be investigated under Section 23,” he told Berita Harian yesterday.

During the MADANI Unity Tour and Launch of Unity Machinery in Kelantan yesterday, Anwar gave a conditional statement to a political leader, asking them to either return the alleged stolen assets or be ready to face investigation.

In his speech, Anwar, who is also the Member of Parliament for Tambun, stated that if the implicated leader, whom he did not name, fails to comply, he will direct the authorities to investigate.

A Misconception

Mohamed Haniff stated that it is a misunderstanding to suggest that a crime can be resolved simply by returning stolen assets, as it overlooks the sovereignty of the country’s laws and the principles of the crime itself.

“A crime is a crime. Taking RM1 million and returning RM1 million cannot resolve the act of corruption.

“If the return of stolen assets occurs, it does not absolve the criminal but may potentially reduce the punishment imposed by the court, which can only be determined during the trial.

“Such criminal cases cannot be resolved like civil cases, such as dropping a lawsuit when land is returned.

“From the statements made, the Prime Minister seems to misunderstand this crucial element, and the statements also indicate a clear intent to interfere,” he said.

Mohamed Haniff pointed out that Anwar’s previous statement several months ago about a prominent local businessman regarding tax exemptions received during the Perikatan Nasional government’s rule also raises questions about whether there was inappropriate intervention in that case.

“Does this imply that there was a wrongful interference in the businessman’s case due to the recent statements made by the Prime Minister, showing a pattern of misconduct in dealings with law enforcement agencies?” he asked.


Commenting on the same issue, lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali described the repeated statements issued by the Prime Minister as potentially creating a negative perception of the government.

He added that the statements put pressure on law enforcement agencies conducting investigations, as it appears that their actions are directed by the government’s top leader.

“The statements can be seen as political interference, and when the same matter is repeated at every opportunity, it gives the impression that the investigations are conducted due to the Prime Minister’s directives.

“This perception cannot be ignored as the ‘directives’ are repeated, and even if there is no actual interference in the MACC, the perception remains that the agency is politically motivated for revenge,” he said.

He stressed that Anwar himself should understand the rule of law in the country, which means that law enforcement agencies should investigate any wrongdoing.

“As an example, in Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s case, he himself stated that he is ready to be investigated, but the same script is being repeated, especially during this election period. It should be stopped, and the investigation should continue by letting the court process proceed,” he added.

Meanwhile, lawyer Datuk Adnan Seman viewed the Prime Minister’s statement as having a general and political context.

He asserted that the prosecution of criminal and corruption cases under the Attorney General’s jurisdiction is not decided by orders from government officials, including ministers.

“Such statements are not unique to Anwar; previous leaders have made similar statements in the past. We can say it is a political statement.

“We need to remember that anyone can be investigated, regardless of whether they were former ministers. Investigations can be carried out without authority limits.

“I understand that these statements may be a response to statements made by specific parties, assuming that misconduct has occurred. Thus, the statements can serve as the basis for MACC to initiate investigations based on reports,” he said.

However, Adnan admitted that the Prime Minister’s statement may put pressure on MACC to expedite the investigation.

“We must understand that high-profile appointments, such as the Attorney General, Chief Commissioner of MACC, and Inspector-General of Police, are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong based on the Prime Minister’s recommendations,” he said.