Zahid’s DNAA: Separating the Public Prosecutor from the Attorney-General is the Government’s Only Path to Redemption!

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih) views with grave concern the Discharge Not Amounting to Acquittal (DNAA) of Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of all 47 charges of corruption and involving millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi, granted by the High Court today upon the request by Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mukhtar.

This is unacceptable when the prosecution had successfully established a prima facie case and Zahid must present his defence. The prosecution owes the public an explanation as to why the request for DNAA at this stage when a prima facie has been established.

The AGC must also reveal what possible new charges or new directions of investigation they are studying against Zahid. If there is no plan for new charges, then this might be amounting to providing an escape route for Zahid to apply for acquital within months. Thus, Bersih calls on the prosecution to review the DNAA the evidences and all 47 charges again and re-charge if necessary.

Bersih wishes to remind and draw precedence from the case of the former intelligence chief Hasanah Ab Hamidi where on August 2022, the High Court granted a full acquittal in her RM50million criminal breach of trust charge, just one year after the DNAA.

As the anti-craft and reformist credential of his Madani Government comes under serious doubt following this decision, Bersih urges PM Anwar Ibrahim to announce within this week a clear roadmap and timeline for the separation of Public Prosecution from the Attorney General’s Chamber (AGC).

As it stands now, the Attorney General is a political appointee advising the government who plays the duo role of the Public Prosecutor that holds the power to initiate or drop criminal charges. This power can be abused or weaponised for political reasons. The AG/PP separation has been advocated by Bersih and civil society groups and we have come up with thorough recommendations on how it can be done [1]. The only action left is to implement it.
We also wonder if this is prelude to the dropping of all remaining charges against former prime minister Najib Razak, which will all but erode public trust in the Madani government’s reform agenda.

Until the separation is done, the AGC must refrain from withdrawing charges in high profile cases. If the cases are defective, let judges rule on that, not prosecutors who are ultimately under Prime Minister’s control.

Malaysians are sick of seeing this correlation: Those who stay in power forever stay innocent, while those who lose power also lose their innocence.

The request for DNAA by the Deputy Public Prosecution at this stage of Zahid’s trial strongly reinforces the urgency to separate the PP and AG – nothing less will restore the credibility of the PP – indeed, the whole government – after this decision.

Bersih cautions Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, further delay in AGC reform may greatly damage credibility for the Madani government, which is now associated with this terrible precedence for politically-connected trials. Enough talk, politicians must walk the talk. Reform now before sinking to the point of no return!

Issued by:
Bersih Steering Commitee

[1] See “Reforming the Office of Attorney General and JLS in Malaysia” published by Bersih. See also this statement we released before GE15 on the same subject: