The special task force investigating into allegations of Prime Ministerial misconduct by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in particular into Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report and allegation on July 3 that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) were deposited into Najib’s personal accounts in AmBank in March 2013, shortly before the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, 2013 and the holding of 13th general elections has zero credibility and legitimacy.
How can the “special task force” have credibility and legitimacy when Cabinet Ministers, and even the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, do not know about its establishment, composition, terms of reference and the latest change of Chairmanship of the special task force?
Yesterday, former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib urged the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to disassociate himself from the special task force, saying this would help enhance public perception and integrity into the probe.
Abu Talib’s views were also shared by lawyers who said the top government lawyer should not be part of the investigation or else his office would not be seen as being independent.
Talib and the lawyers said Gani’s immediate disassociation from the task force would enhance public confidence and integrity over the three investigating bodies – police, MACC and Bank Negara – in executing their duties.
The principle of check and balance between investigation agencies and the public prosecutor must be observed to ensure justice to all parties, including the public.
Talib, who was A-G from 1980 and 1993, said it was not desirable for Gani, as the public prosecutor, to be a member of the task force.
The role of the public prosecutor concerning investigations was to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to charge offenders, and this was a check-and-balance principle that ensured justice for all.
Talib said that police, MACC and the central bank have wide investigative powers under applicable laws and sufficient experience to carry out their duties without supervision by the Attorney-General.
There was an immediate super-speed response on the same day, by way of a joint statement by the other three Tan Sris on the special task force, namely, Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.
The three Tan Sris said that there is no issue of the Attorney-General influencing the ongoing probe into the WSJ report, the state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and allegations that money from related entities were moved to the prime minister’s accounts.
This is because the Attorney-General is only referred to for guidance and legal advice to ensure the investigation is done holistically and in accordance to the law.
The three Tan Sris in their joint statement said:
“In this regard, the Attorney-General is very sensitive towards his jurisdiction as prescribed by Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code.”
This belated explanation however is still controversial, as there are lawyers like S.N. Nair who still find it untenable and unacceptable.
Nair, who was formerly a police officer, said all investigating agencies have legal officers and departments for reference and the government task force investigating allegations against the Prime Minister relating to the WSJ report and 1MDB has no business seeking guidance from the Attorney-General while the probe is ongoing.
Nair argued that the public prosecutor had no legal power over investigations and any reference to him would be deemed as interference.
Nair said investigating agencies could seek advice from their officers who were experienced and legally qualified as all the three agencies involved, Bank Negara Malaysia, MACC and the Police have deputy public prosecutors seconded from the Attorney-General’s Chambers or their own legal division.
Nair said the central bank, police and MACC might as well close their respective legal departments if they had to refer to the A-G for legal advice during the ongoing investigation.
Nair stressed that “Investigation and prosecution are like oil and water, and they cannot mix”.
Procedure would see that investigation papers are sent to the public prosecutor’s office once the probe is completed.
The problem however is even more serious than that envisaged by the former Attorney-General and lawyers like Nair, reflecting a serious crisis of governance in Malaysia, as the four Tan Sris have been caught red-handed in failing to be truthful and honest in the discharge of their public duties.
All the four Tan Sris are not telling the truth and not acting honestly when they claim that there is no issue of the Attorney-General influencing the ongoing probe, when Gani is not only a member of the quartet of high-powered “special task force”, but the Chairman as well!
Although the statement of the special task force yesterday was signed by the three Tan Sris without Gani joining it, the previous statements by the “special task force” were either issued jointly by the four Tan Sris or in one case, only under Gani’s name.
Furthermore, for the past 10 days since the outbreak of the WSJ controversy, Gani Patail has been described in the media as the chairman of the high-powered quartet of Tan Sris (which he had not denied), the Ministers have referred to Gani has head of the “special task force” in their plea to the public to have trust and confidence in the ongoing investigations, not to mention the high-profile actions ordered by the four Tan Sris led by Gani to freeze six bank accounts and to raid 1MDB office at Menara IMC in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin had urged the special task force “to find the truth, not to find fault” and the need for closure to the issue which was important for the image of the country.
He complained: “When I go overseas, people would ask me about this issue and what is happening in Malaysia. They are starting to see Malaysia like a third-world country, which is not good for us.”
Malaysia is indeed becoming a third-world country. Does Muhyiddin, the No. 2 man in the country, know who is now the Chairman of the “special task force”?
I won’t even ask the Ministers, who know absolutely nothing and dare not ask what is happening in the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal.
It is a sad state of affairs for Malaysia, which aspires to become a fully developed nation under Vision 2020 in five years’ time, that no Minister know or can say what are the full terms of reference and scope of this “special task force” – quite blur about its establishment, scope and actual composition.
It is now two weeks since the Wall Street Journal report that Malaysian government investigators have found some US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) deposited into Najib’s personal accounts at AmBank in March 2013, shortly before the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, 2013 in the run-up to the 13th General Election.
By now, every Malaysian informed about current events, know that Najib dare not deny the WSJ allegation that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) of funds were deposited into his personal accounts in 2013 just before the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, 2013 in the run-up to the 13th General Election; and everybody wants to know where the RM2.6 billion came from; and where and to whom these RM2.6 billion have gone to.
Najib must answer both these questions as it is not enough for him to repeatedly declare that he had not used the RM2.6 billion for personal purposes.
The latest development over Gani’s actual role in the special task force has highlighted the zero credibility and legitimacy of “special task force” of four Tan Sris.
This has strengthened my proposal that the “special task force” of four and now three Tan Sris should be scrapped immediately and be replaced by a Royal Commission of Inquiry of three Tuns, chaired by Tun Mahathir with Tun Abdullah and Tun Musa Hitam as the deputy chair-persons with commissioners of independent and credible Malaysians including DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua and PKR MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli.