EC chief denies discussing Rafizi’s case with AG, believes in separation of powers

Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun speaks to the media during a press conference at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) in Putrajaya July 18, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun speaks to the media during a press conference at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) in Putrajaya July 18, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun has shot down Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’s claim that they discussed the acquittal of PKR leader Mohd Rafizi Ramli.

Azhar issued a statement today denying quotes attributed to Thomas in which the AG said he consulted the EC chief when deciding not to appeal Rafizi’s acquittal of offences under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia).

He said no such discussion had taken place either with the AG or officers from the Attorney General’s Chambers.

“I wish to put on record that I had not discussed the Rafizi’s case or appeal with Tan Sri Tommy Thomas or any officer from the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) that led Tan Sri Tommy Thomas to decide to withdraw the said appeal,” his statement read.

Azhar also denied that he has influence over the AG’s call to institute disciplinary proceedings against the officers who filed the appeal against Rafizi’s acquittal.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 23, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Attorney General Tommy Thomas arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 23, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Yesterday, business paper The Edge quoted Thomas as claiming ignorance about the AGC’s appeal against the PKR leader’s acquittal.

Thomas said he had instructed his officers not to appeal after the matter was discussed with Azhar.

“I am shocked as it was decided after a discussion I had with Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun that we will not be appealing. And the decision was conveyed to the relevant officers,” Thomas was quoted as saying.

However, Azhar claimed the only meeting he has had with Thomas in “recent times” was to discuss a case involving former Batu MP and PKR leader Chua Tian Chang, in which the EC was a party.

“I had, in my official capacity, sought advice from Tan Sri Tommy Thomas on whether or not to file an appeal against the decision of the High Court in that case,” he said.

Rafizi Ramli speaks during a ceramah in Rantau April 10, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Rafizi Ramli speaks during a ceramah in Rantau April 10, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Azhar then suggested that a meeting as what Thomas claimed would have contravened his “staunch” belief in the doctrine of separation of powers.

“I am always conscious of the purviews and jurisdictions of the various institutions and agencies of governance,” he said.

“Records will show that I am a stickler to this doctrine and I wish to assure the public that I will not interfere or meddle with the affairs of any institution and agency of governance to which I am not related, let alone partake in their decision making.”

Rafizi was convicted of violating Bafia for leaking confidential bank records related to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), which was headed by a former Umno minister’s husband.

He was fully acquitted and discharged last month.

The conviction disqualified him from defending his Pandan parliamentary seat in the general election.

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