Ku Nan's conviction a boost for Malaysian justice system’s image, legal experts say

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor or commonly called Ku Nan, was convicted yesterday and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and fined RM2 million. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor or commonly called Ku Nan, was convicted yesterday and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and fined RM2 million. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 ― Former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor's conviction in a corruption trial yesterday will further restore public confidence in the country’s legal system, lawyers said.

Tengku Adnan's case follows former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s conviction in July on all seven charges of power abuse and misappropriation of RM42 million from 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

“It is no doubt in recent years, we have seen many bold judgements like Semenyih Jaya (Semenyih Jaya Sdn Bhd v Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Hulu Langat 2017), Indira Gandhi, to what we have recently in Najib's case.

“So I think we should remain confident in the judiciary,” constitutional lawyer Kee Hui Yee told Malay Mail when contacted.

Tengku Adnan, or commonly called Ku Nan, was convicted yesterday and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and fined RM2 million. The sentence was stayed pending appeal.

Kee said the decision would salve the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of another bribery charge against the Umno leader previously.

Last month, the Attorney-General’s Chambers applied for a conditional discharge of Tengku Adnan for his charge of receiving a RM1 million bribe from a businessman who pleaded guilty to the offence, citing new developments.

Kee said the matter supported the case for separating the roles of the AG to ensure the independence of the office.

“Recently the law minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said in Parliament that a paper on the separation of powers between the AG and public prosecutor would be submitted to the Cabinet by this year-end.

“So let's see if anything will be tabled in the next Parliament session,” she said.

The Malaysian Bar’s Constitutional Law Committee co-chairman Andrew Khoo said the Malaysian judiciary was already seen as an institution that was “independent, impartial, intelligent and with integrity.

“The clear and strong written judgments of the courts, especially those of the Federal Court, reveal cogent and coherent judicial reasoning which show how the administration of justice is very much strengthened when there is adherence to and respect for the rule of law, and not of men,” Khoo said when contacted.

Criminal and human rights lawyer Rajsurian Pillai also said the decisions in Tengku Adnan and Najib’s cases proved that the institution has regained its independence.

However, Rajasurian pointed out that Tengku Adnan would remain the Putrajaya MP until his avenues for appeal were exhausted.

The former minister also need not pay the RM2 million fine so long as the sentence was stayed, he added.

Nevertheless, the lawyer said Tengku Adnan would not be eligible to run for office until his conviction was vacated, even if an appeal was still pending.

“He cannot claim innocence, unlike those who have yet to be proven guilty. They are innocent until proven guilty.

“Now he is guilty until otherwise found by appeal courts,” he said.

Tengku Adnan was convicted yesterday of receiving a RM2 million bribe from Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong, a director of a company who had dealings with the minister at the time, in 2016.

In delivering his judgment, High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said Tengku Adnan failed to raise reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case after conducting a maximum evaluation of all the evidence tendered in court.

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