KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The prosecution and trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak should serve as a reminder to those elected as prime ministers in the future, Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas said today.
In his opening speech at the historic trial of the former prime minister for seven charges related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd, Thomas said power was concentrated in Najib’s hands when the offences were allegedly committed.
“The operation of Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution that ‘all persons are equal before the law’ is amply demonstrated by this trial. A former prime minister is charged under due process in the ordinary court of the land, like any other accused.
“The Accused is not above the law and his prosecution and this trial should serve as precedents for all future holders of this august office,” said the AG.
Thomas pointed out that during the time when he served as prime minister, Najib also held the position of minister of finance, thereby “combining maximum political power and control of the nation’s purse.”
“In holding the office of the prime minister, and thus the nation’s highest elected public officer and Head of Government, the highest trust was reposed by our people in the Accused.
“In such circumstances, the law demands the highest standards of care in the discharge by the Accused of his duties and obligations as trustee of public offices,” he said earlier in the speech.
The AG reminded the court that in addition to the two posts, Najib was also appointed the chairman of 1MDB’s Board of Advisers and advisor emeritus for SRC International.
“A common feature of both companies was that the true power in directing and managing their affairs did not lie with the Board of Directors, as is required by law and is the universal practice wherever companies carry on business, but in the person of the Accused by virtue of his holding these two positions,” he said.
Thomas also said it is his duty and privilege to open the first trial against Najib, who had previously occupied “the most powerful office in the land” and “wielded near absolute power”.