Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been acquitted of all graft charges by the Shah Alam High Court in his case involving the Foreign Visa System. Umno’s Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim has been granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with regard to corruption and money laundering.
To the layperson, the question is why were these politicians even charged in the first place if they got off the hook so easily? Didn’t the prosecution do its job? Or were they and the courts influenced by the tirade of criticisms against the authorities over former prime minister Najib Razak’s conviction?
If one Umno politician went free, the judge’s reasons can be accepted as independently arrived at even if many may be disappointed by the decision. But, when two from the same political party as the prime minister get off scot-free on the same day in different courts, in the current context of questioning the independence of the judiciary, the question does arise in one’s mind if justice was done?
We will never know but it presents the same lack of credibility that has characterised the Malay-majority governments of the past two years. It has been a government by political pacts and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and not a government by constitutional rule. As the former, decisions are made according to what has been agreed upon by coalition partners in a pact and that takes precedence over constitutional rule.
This is so clearly apparent in Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s indecisiveness in naming the date for the 15th General Election (GE15). It was a hotly debated issue in the media but we are yet to hear of his decision and we may have to wait a little longer because he is not in the country. He is in New York to attend the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
A general election is necessary to restore constitutional rule in Malaysia, the fundamental basis of which is obtaining the mandate of the people. No doubt it is difficult for Sabri to choose the right date as his hands are tied.
Apparently, according to media reports, a document was signed between him and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin that elections should be called only after consultations with Bersatu. At the same time, he is being pulled in the other direction by Umno members who want an early election.
An election is urgently necessary so that the country has a prime minister who is not bound by pacts and loyalty to a party president that he can’t make independent decisions based on the rule of law.
The only good reason to not hold the GE15 in the coming months is the risk of floods that may cause the loss of life. This may lead to a low voter turnout which may benefit Umno as its supporters may come out to vote but the majority may not.
A low voter turnout in GE15 will be unfavourable to all parties, except Umno. It could mean that Umno may win a number of seats on a smaller percentage of votes and form a coalition with other parties with even smaller representation to form a minority government.
A date must be chosen which will bring out the most number of voters so that a government is formed on a majority in order to ensure political stability.
While in New York, out of the hot seat where he is pulled in many directions, hopefully, Sabri will clear his head and arrive at a date for GE15 which will draw out the most number of voters so that the government that follows will be a majority government and good for Malaysia.