Double standard of the highest order, says Lokman on Bar’s criticism of AGC

Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Adam says the Malaysian Bar took a different position when charges against then finance minister Lim Guan Eng were dropped in 2018.

(FMT) – Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Adam has slammed the Malaysian Bar for its criticisms against the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) decision to request for a conditional discharge in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s Yayasan Akalbudi case.

In a statement, Lokman said the Bar “once again failed to show professionalism” in its comments on Zahid’s case, describing it as “double standards of the highest order”.

He questioned why the Bar sang a different tune in 2018 when a corruption charge against then finance minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) was dropped.

“During Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s regime (as prime minister), when Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail ruled for the discharge and acquittal of Lim and (businesswoman) Phang Li Koon after their representation was accepted by the AGC, the Bar took a different stance.

“This clearly illustrates the Bar’s double standards,” he said, adding that the AGC at that time had requested for Lim to be discharged without an acquittal.

On September 4, 2018, the New Straits Times reported that the Bar described the prosecution’s decision to withdraw corruption charges against Lim as “not shocking.”

Its then president, George Varughese, was reported to have said that it was the absolute prerogative of the public prosecutor to drop charges at any stage of a trial, before the delivery of judgment. He cited Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“It is not uncommon for lawyers representing accused persons to make representations to the AGC seeking withdrawal and/or reduction of the charge/s proffered against their clients. And on a regular basis the AGC do accede to these representations,” he said.

On Monday, Zahid was granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) on all 47 of his corruption, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering charges.

Zahid, who was previously ordered to enter his defence on all charges, was accused of embezzling millions of ringgit from his foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as the home minister between 2013 and 2018.

Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah said the AGC’s decision to apply for the DNAA at “such a late juncture” had tarnished its own reputation and credibility as the prosecuting party, and that of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as the investigating body.

She also criticised the AGC’s defence of its decision to apply for the DNAA, saying it was completely devoid of proper justification.