SEPTEMBER 7 — The what is controversial enough but the longer-term question of who made it happen, is going to be perennially speculated.
Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi faces no more court troubles, thanks to events at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday.
The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) requested an end to its prosecution.
The DNA of the DNAA (discharge not amounting to acquittal) likely a mystery henceforth, even when further evidence emerges in piecemeal at intervals in the next decades. Eventually, at some point it morphs into a historical curiosity.
The strategy — if it was ever designed — was to not have any one person or faction or group to have fault cement-shoed around it.
The flurry of activities last week should have alerted all. The lead prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran was removed from the case, as she fast-forwarded her retirement and began her outstanding leave (until the official November 1 exit).
Former attorney-general Idrus Harun's contract ended yesterday but solicitor-general Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh already filled in for him since last week (Idrus too was on annual leave). Terrirudin officially replaced him yesterday.
Whether Idrus, Terrirudin, Raja Rozela, other officers or a combination inside the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) drove the Zahid U-turn for now is hard to pin down.
The AGC pursued this case with 47 charges for almost five years only to meekly withdraw in court, then defend its 11 “cogent reasons” in the media later.
When in those five years did the AGC realise the case was counter to justice?
There was a strong case already validated by the high court judge as prima facie, so justice in this instance to the untrained seems a complete wet blanket.
An extra paragraph of explanation, please!
Political parties inside the unity government struggle with this one.
DAP belatedly asked the AGC to explain better.
There are enough lawyers in that urban party to know intimately that discretion, buying time and minimum disclosures are pillars of the legal industry.
In fact, the mellow ask for clarity reeks of insincerity. Others inside Pakatan protest half-heartedly.
But the eyes are all on one man since the DNAA. The prime minister.
Yesterday, PM Anwar Ibrahim clarified he had not interfered. Soon after the Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution backed his boss with the same sentiment.
But here’s the thing.
In 1998, Anwar was prosecuted by the AGC and the prime minister then, Mahathir Mohamad, claimed he had not interfered. Except Anwar, Saifuddin and for a bit before he was jailed by Mahathir, Zahid as Umno Youth chief, accused the prosecution of political assassination.
Anwar repeated the same claim in 2008 when the second sodomy trial transpired.
If Anwar was twice “falsely” victimised, then he should understand his opponents’ incredulity over Zahid’s surprise “Get out of Jail” from the AGC. It would require far more than him verbally assuring the public of his non-interference. Especially since the Anwar-Zahid closeness is public and waits for Finas funding for a biopic film.
Anwar is lucky only Bersatu and not all of Perikatan Nasional (PN) press for answers about Zahid’s let-off.
If this tragicomedy required a soundtrack, it would kick off with Shaggy’s It wasn’t me. About being caught red handed and never owning up.
This unity government has lost its moral high ground.
That does not mean it fares worse than PN. And that is the greater tragedy in Malaysia today.
The better choice may not even reach a passing grade.
The focus is on the actors but how about the audience — the voters?
The six state elections last month, yielded a record number of gains for PN but the overall vote count was with Pakatan-Barisan Nasional (BN).
Many Malaysians accept, right or wrong, the Pakatan-BN tandem. One half of the tandem is led by Zahid.
The Umno president was appointed as DPM in December. There was no outcry then. Only muffled objections among Pakatan supporters.
The argument was binary.
If Pakatan-BN was rejected, then PN rises to power. To avoid that reality, all compromises were laid out on the table. Zahid being the largest elephant in the room crushed idealism rather than the table.
When considered on those terms, Pakatan supporters were complicit and knew nine months ago that a price would be exacted to protect Zahid, by extension the unity government.
Welcome to nowhere
That’s exactly why despite noise in political chat groups, there is scant public opposition to the court decision.
It is as if both the actors and audience are just going through the motions. To say enough so they can live with their conscience, at least until this news cycle expires.
Perhaps the larger disappointments here are the various politicians comfortable with this arrangement and voters unable to shift conversations to carry reason, instead prefer to dance to set tunes of safety.
The blame is spread in every direction that like Roman senators with knives stabbing Caesar simultaneously, the murderer is unknown.
Plausible deniability for all. Reasons for none.
Two days after the twenty-fifth anniversary of the infamous Anwar sacking, a DPM gets respite from a court rather than its ire, yet, it feels hollow.
A quarter of a century later, it’s impossible to know if we’ve gone full circle and killed the curse or just caught in a loop, guests of Dante’s new and improved nine circles of hell.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.