Media Statement (5 September 2018): Lim Guan Eng’s Case Shows Institutional Reform Should No Longer Be Delayed

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0) shares the concern of many on the sudden acquittal of Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng, who faced the charge of alleged corruption in a purchase of bungalow that is below market price and a land deal in Penang.

The concern is made more alarming with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) expressing that they were not consulted in the process and was shocked with the dropping of the charge.

Although Dato’ Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria has clarified that the decision was made by him as the head of prosecution and appeal division of the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) without the involvement of the Attorney General in applying an approach of “fresh eye”, it is troubling that there seems to be a lack of coordination between the MACC and the AGC.

According to Dato’ Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria, the MACC was not informed of the decision to avoid external interference.

Public concerns of the case stem from the suspicion of the case being politically motivated during Barisan Nasional’s rule before the 14the General Election (GE14). With the sudden acquittal of Lim Guan Eng after Pakatan Harapan came into power, another concern arises whether the decision has been made due to external interference, especially from the executive.

While BERSIH 2.0 welcomes the statement of Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria and it is a good starting point to separate prosecutorial powers from the Attorney General, the case once again indicates the urgent need for an independent public prosecutor’s office to be established and separated from the Attorney General’s office as soon as possible to clear public suspicion of the role of Attorney General, who acts as a legal adviser of the executive branch of the government, in influencing prosecution decision.

The public confidence in the MACC as a truly independent body should also not be delayed any longer. This can be made by making the anti-corruption body a constitutional body with transparent and credible appointment of its members. This would ensure the anti-corruption body is free from external interference and does not become a tool of political persecution against political enemies.

These are the demands that BERSIH 2.0 has made since Bersih 4 rally in the 2015. Despite these recommendations being included in the manifesto of Pakatan Harapan, we have not seen any action taken by the new government thus far to implement these crucial institutional reforms measures.

BERSIH 2.0 reiterates our calls and urges the Pakatan Harapan government to start taking actions to implement these recommendations without further delays.
This is the only way for the new government to convince the public that it has the political will and is committed to institutional reforms that it promised to the voters.

Released by,

Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0