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Go ahead, Mohtar, make my day

Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah, in responding to criticism against his person and his office, has once again displayed his arrogance and bad faith. Adopting the tone and manner of his boss, Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he tries to avoid answering his critics – the latest among whom was Mohamed Ezam Mohamed Noor – by threatening to use the Sedition Act against them. He hopes that this will put a stop to accusations that his office is negligent and impotent.

I repeat my reproach of Mohtar and his office over the practice of both selective and malicious prosecution and for colluding with political conspirators. Mohtar stands out as the most repulsive attorney-general in Malaysian history, one who would pawn principles and the dignity of his office for mere self interest. Indeed, he has reduced the attorney-general’s office to the level of a department subservient to the executive branch of government.

Following are among my reasons for saying so:

1. Lim Guan Eng, Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, was prosecuted for championing the cause of an underaged Malay girl who had reported that she had been raped. But the case against Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, accused of a sex crime and corruption, was dropped.

2. The affidavit presented by Mohtar’s office in the case of Dato Nallakarupan was tailored to suit Mahathir’s political strategy. It received wide publicity on 3 September 1998, a day after I was sacked. This affidavit was presented together with one prepared by Musa Hassan, the official henchman of Tan Sri Rahim Noor (the former Inspector-General of Police). The contents include accusations of graft involving 60 million ringgit, sex offences and that I leaked government secrets and served as secret agent to a foreign country.

3. He ignored my verbal assurance, which was backed by a letter from my solicitor, that I would surrender to the police any time I was required to. Instead there was a Gestapo-style raid on my residence that could easily have resulted in bloodshed. Under his instruction, I was detained under Section 377B of the Penal Code.

4. His right-hand man, Dato Gani Patail, was at Bukit Aman on the night of 20 September 1998, while criminal violence was being inflicted on me in the same building. It was afterwards decided that I should be detained under the Internal Security Act so that my injuries would be concealed from the public. This led to widespread suspicion that his office was involved in a conspiracy to cover up a crime.

5. Gani knew I was severely wounded and saw for himself the condition I was in when I first appeared in court. Despite this, he tried to prevent me from making a complaint, saying the injuries were too slight. It is patently clear that he lied in court. In fact, he has lied to the entire nation. Coming from a senior official, such a blatant attempt to deceive must count as a serious crime indeed. It is nothing less than abetment in a cover-up.

6. In dealing with the issue of my injuries, Mohtar deliberately ignored the report submitted by police investigator ACP Mat Zain Ibrahim, which implicates Gani and Deputy Public Prosecutor Azhar Mohamad. They plotted to downplay the findings of doctors and specialists who examined me. Instead, Mohtar appointed his own consultant, Dr Abdul Rahman Yusof, who gave his findings without examining me. Mohtar said in a statement that some of my claims were false. The royal commission which inquired into my injuries found, on the contrary, that Rahim Noor’s assault was so severe that I could have died. Mohtar’s negligence and feebleness in handling the case – how he dragged his feet before acting upon the police and medical reports -- were plain for all to see.

7. The statutory declaration of lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon implicates Mohtar, Gani and Azhar in a scheme to pressure Nallakarupan to disgrace me in exchange for a guarantee of release from prosecution that could lead to the death sentence. But Dato Nalla would rather face prosecution than lie.

8. Mohtar and his office have ignored serious allegations by Dr Munawar Anees, Sukma Darmawan, Mior Abdul Razak, Azmin Mohamad Ali and others that the police were guilty not only of extortion and torture to extract false confessions that they had been sodomised but also of calumny against me, Ustaz Dato Harun Din and the late Tan Sri Yahaya Ahmad. Instead of prosecuting the police or even investigating the allegations, Mohtar’s office has decided to prosecute Sukma, Mior and Azmin for questioning police methods.

9. Mohtar connived with Mahathir to use malicious prosecution as a threat to pressure me to resign. Mahathir denies this, but I spoke of this threat even before 20 September 1998, in front of scores of friends. Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak was reported on 5 October to have confirmed that there was indeed such a threat.

10. Mohtar discussed with Tun Daim Zainuddin proposals to charge me with either leaking government secrets or committing sex offences if I refused to resign. Tun Daim intimated this to me on 12 August 1998. In court, I asked why in the world would the Attorney-General plot and scheme with Tun Daim? Can money buy and decide everything?

11. Throughout my trial, Mohtar used the full strength of his official power, his penchant for issuing threats and his arrogance and vengefulness to destroy my character. Then, after doing everything he could to shame me as much as possible, he changed the charges. In fact, a witness testified to being intimidated and to catching prosecutors and prosecution witnesses in the act of planning this vilification.

12. During the trial, I was prepared to provide proof that there was a political conspiracy in a case of selective prosecution. This pertained to a document, signed by Gani and presented to me by Mohtar, recommending that a senior minister be prosecuted for corruption. He can make excuses, or threaten me with the Official Secrets Act, but here nevertheless was proof that he practises selective prosecution under Mahathir’s direction. Furthermore, as I stressed in court, the Official Secrets Act cannot be used to cover up the malpractices, corruption and greed of those in power.

13. I have referred to personal letters which three corporate figures wrote to Daim during his previous stint as Finance Minister. These letters pledge to Daim’s person funds and corporate shares worth a total of nearly half a billion ringgit. Mohtar, who is wont to loquaciously condemning corruption among minor officials, seems to be tongue-tied in this particular case. He has to wait for Mahathir to issue an order of selective prosecution, so close is the cooperation between them.

14. During the trial, I was prepared too to provide evidence of selective prosecution by mentioning serious sex charges against Mahathir. However, I do not have Mahathir’s capacity for the cruelty that is born of vengefulness; I would not name the sex partners or the witnesses. After all, he is 73 years old and a grandfather. My intention here is only to show how Mahathir, using Mohtar, would seize upon any opportunity to apply selective prosecution against those he disfavours, even if it means concocting evidence. What about Rahim Tamby Chik’s case and other cases, implicating others who are still in Mahathir's favour? What about the official said to have used his private jet to import women through the VIP lounge at Subang? Customs and immigration officials know about this. And what has happened to allegations that a minister was involved in the Mustakizah murder case?

15. I tried to mention in court many other cases of corruption, but these were declared irrelevant. Indeed, prosecuting officers would jump to their feet to object every time I tried to present evidence of corruption, especially if Mahathir’s or Daim’s name was mentioned. I referred to the Perwaja issue, to the nation’s loss of nearly 6 billion ringgit, saying I had documents showing that Mahathir directed Tan Sri Eric Chia to give a contract to a certain firm. Is it not corruption when Mahathir, who is directly responsible for Petronas, approves nearly 2 billion ringgit for his son? And what about the approval of privatisation projects, contracts and corporate shares for his children, whose wealth runs into billions of ringgit and who sit as directors in hundreds of companies?

16. Mohtar too has studied the Anti-Corruption Agency’s reports regarding leaders who own enormous wealth in the form of corporate shares, land, and personal and family property. But these documents are simply filed away. And, surely, Mohtar is well aware of Daim’s obvious wealth, which he accumulated during his previous tenure as Finance Minister. In fact, he has now become the one Finance Minister with a bank of his own, the International Bank of Malaysia. All of these are open secrets, but the practice of selective prosecution has obstructed the effort to eradicate corruption and establish justice.

I do believe that by issuing this firm statement, I expose myself to further prosecution on various counts, including corruption, sex offences and treason, for which evidence will be vigorously invented. The prosecution’s intrigues are well known to the people and they will make their judgment. Mahathir’s lust for revenge is not yet satisfied, even though I have been physically assaulted and jailed for six years. The instruments of state, including Mohtar and the Attorney-General’s Office and media organisations under the control of the powers-that-be and wealthy businessmen will be worked to their maximum capacity to blind the people to injustice, corruption, cronyism and nepotism, especially as the election approaches. So-called leaders who are unjust and corrupt are terrified of the possibility that I would continue to expose their misdeeds. I will be kept away from the people. But they can plan; it is Allah Almighty Who disposes.

I am not sure why Mohtar’s ill will towards me had increased. It could have been caused by talk about the ACA investigating a report that he had holidayed in Italy with a corporate figure. I explained in my letter to the PM, dated 25 August 1998, that I knew nothing of such an investigation although it was alleged that I had ordered it. Nevertheless, I would not have prevented the ACA from doing its work. Another possible cause was a rumour spread by an ambitious lawyer that I would have him replace Mohtar as soon as I had the opportunity. This was false, but it nevertheless worried Mohtar.

I would like to stress to Mohtar that his worth is measured by his courage in ensuring justice without fear or favour, even if it means acting against a national hero or a wealthy merchant. It is not counted courageous to persecute an ordinary policeman for receiving a 20-ringgit bribe or a minor official for taking a tiny plot of land while we allow the big-time marauders to run amok, fleecing the nation of millions of ringgit and grabbing land by the thousands of acres.

Mohtar has no claim to glory when all he does is act as a gofer in a conspiracy serving the interest of a greedy and corrupt political clique. He should set himself free and repel attempts by the PM or Daim to control him. He should drop his phony conceit; he has no reason to feel great over his ability to make threats against young people who voice their concern over injustices in our system, including the practice of selective and malicious prosecution.

Anwar Ibrahim
Sungai Buloh Prison
May 20, 1999

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