In an interview with The Star published yesterday, BN Strategic Communications Director Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan is reported to have said that the Prime Minister had to “take people out” when an alleged draft charge sheet against him emerged. In justifying the move, he said that the PM had to do it first “so that things will get back to normalcy.”
By Rahman’s own admission, therefore, it becomes clear that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak resorted to the “drastic action” (in Rahman’s own words) not for the sake of the people or the good of the nation but solely because he wanted to save his own skin.
From Rahman’s account, the Prime Minister unleashed “a flurry of action” in order to prevent himself from being prosecuted. We take it that this “flurry of action” refers to the PM sacking Muhyiddin and four ministers, replacing at lightning speed the AG Tan Sri Gani Patail, disbanding the 1MDB task force and presumably ordering the IGP to unleash his own “flurry of action” – raiding, arresting and transfer of MACC officers and interrogating Bank Negara personnel.
What Rahman has said essentially means that the Prime Minister had deliberately interfered with an on-going investigation that was being undertaken by the 1MDB Special Task Force comprising the highest echelons of the nation’s law and regulatory agencies. To my mind, such an interference may amount to criminal acts both under the Penal Code and the MACC Act (section 186 and section 48 respectively).
The suggestion by Rahman that the special task force was probably the IGP’s own initiative and that it was “not authorised by the Cabinet” and thus illegally constituted appears to be a desperate attempt at legitimizing the PM’s “drastic action” in neutralising the investigations. Unless it was misreported by the Star, it also appears to be a subtle attempt at shifting the blame on the IGP. While I am no fan of the IGP, I believe that in this matter, he should be credited for initiating the task force instead of being made to look like he overstepped his jurisdiction.
In any event, Rahman’s argument that the Attorney-General could not be part of the task force because of “a conflict of interest” has no merit. It is trite law as well as conventional practice that not only prosecution but ultimate supervision of investigation lies with the AG, as provided under the Federal Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code. By being part of the multi-dimensional task force, the AG’s role is to facilitate and give overall direction on the course of the investigations as well as to provide the necessary and prompt legal advice and direction. The final sanction to prosecute a public servant, what more the Prime Minister, must come from the AG. And the AG cannot give the sanction without full access and knowledge of the progress and state of investigations.
Nevertheless, what is clear here about conflict of interest is that the Prime Minister should have taken leave of absence when the investigations were being instituted because all roads to the investigation clearly would lead to him whether it is about the 1MDB (of which he is the chairman) or the nefarious transfer of billions of ringgit into his personal account.
Rahman should stop insulting the intelligence of the people by pretending that these transfers were perfectly above board and throwing red herrings about illegally constituted task force, blaming the IGP or asking what a person in Najib’s shoes should have done.
The answer is as clear as daylight: Najib should have resigned with whatever honour and dignity that is left of him under the circumstances.
MOHAMED AZMIN ALI
Mentri Besar of Selangor | Deputy President, People’s Justice Party