5-member bench to hear Muhyiddin’s review bid

Lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik says Court of Appeal president Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim has agreed to the defence team’s written request.

(FMT) – A five-member Court of Appeal bench will hear a review application brought by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin in a bid to restore his acquittal by the High Court of four abuse of power charges last year.

Lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said Court of Appeal deputy registrar Muhammad Noor Firdaus Rosli conveyed the matter to parties during case management today.

“The matter was called up and we were informed that Court of Appeal president (Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim) had agreed to Muhyiddin’s request,” he told FMT when contacted.

Last week, Hisyam said the defence team had asked for an enlarged panel as the case involved a serious issue of law concerning the appeals court’s jurisdiction.

The former prime minister’s lawyer said the application was put in for Abang Iskandar’s consideration on April 19.

Lawyers K Kumaraendran, Amer Hamzah Arshad and Low Wei Loke also appeared for Muhyiddin, while deputy public prosecutor Ng Siew Wee represented the prosecution.

This is likely to be the first time the Court of Appeal will assemble an enlarged panel to hear a review application. Such matters are normally heard by a three-member bench.

Hisyam said the court had also maintained the July 9 hearing date previously set for the review application.

The prosecution has applied to strike out Muhyiddin’s application on grounds that it is frivolous and an abuse of the court process.

Muhyiddin, on the other hand, argues that the Court of Appeal’s decision, handed down on Feb 24, was a nullity as it was not conferred with the jurisdiction to hear the matter under Section 50(1) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

A three-member Court of Appeal bench chaired by Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail allowed the prosecution’s appeal and ruled that the High Court had erred in law in holding that the charges were defective.

“The charges were unambiguous. There is no necessity for the prosecution to give further particulars as to how the offence was committed,” Hadhariah said.

Muhyiddin, the Bersatu president, was charged in March last year with abusing his power as prime minister between Feb 8 and Aug 20, 2021 in connection with the Jana Wibawa programme by seeking to obtain RM232.5 million for his party.

He pleaded not guilty after the charges were read to him before sessions court judge Azura Alwi on March 10 last year.

On Aug 15, Justice Jamil Hussin allowed Muhyiddin’s application to strike out the charges and used his inherent powers to acquit the former prime minister.

Muhyiddin also faces three counts of money laundering involving RM200 million.