By Aathi Shankar
Many Malaysians are unaware of the principles of the rule of law that govern judicial proceedings.
They thought once a person was detained, it would be as easy as a finger snap to charge, convict and send someone to jail without proper evidence and reliable witnesses.
Under the rule of law, an accused will be presumed innocent until beyond reasonable doubt, and the onus is on the prosecution, not the accused, to prove it.
All evidence and witness testimonies must be tenable and suffice to back the prosecution case.
Any slackness would prove fatal.
The prosecution case against former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak involving government-link companies (GLCs) 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and its ex-subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd seems to be feeble.
Attempts by relevant authorities to cover up or conceal evidence had proven to be futile, thanks to the intelligence and genius of Najib’s defence team led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Najib was slapped with a total 42 corruption charges of abuse of power, criminal breach trust (CBT) and money-laundering.
The first trial was the Najib-SRC case, in which the former premier faced 7 charges – 1 for abuse of power and, three each for CBT and money-laundering.
The prosecution rested its prima facie case after 57 hearing days late last month August, and the Najib-1MDB, in which the former premier currently faces 25 charges, has now commenced.
With a whopping 42 charges over a single case, initially, the prosecution was understandably confident that evidence and witness testimonies were strong enough to convict and imprison Najib.
But now it is no longer the case.
The prosecution case had been punctured by testimonies of several key witnesses and evidence strongly favouring Najib.
Testimonies & Evidence
In Najib-SRC trial, testimony by 48-year-old Joanna Yu Ging Ping, Ambank’s ex-relationship manager, proved that fugitive business Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, was the main culprit and manipulator of Najib’s private accounts.
This was backed by a transcript of BBM messages derived from a Blackberry cellular phone seized from Joanna Yu during a raid by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) at the Ambank branch in Jalan Raja Chulan on July 6, 2015.
That vital digital evidence was hidden by the prosecution from the court’s knowledge.
However, the diligent defence team managed to get hold of the evidence and produced it in the court.
The transcript revealed an exchange of messages between Joanna Yu, the prosecution’s 54th witness of the trial and who was the person fully in charge of managing Najib’s private and credit accounts in Ambank, and Jho Low.
The transcript dated March 22, 2013 revealed that Jho Low has instructed Joanna Yu not to ever to inform or forward any information or details, including bank statements, to Najib or the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) about the former premier’s accounts in Ambank.
She duly abides by Jho Low’s instructions.
Joanna Yu admitted that Jho Low was in control of every financial manipulation involving accounts belonging to Najib and SRC International.
She hinted Najib had no knowledge about Jho Low’s scam.
In the current Najib-1MDB Trial, Datuk Amhari Effendi Nazaruddin, the ex-special officer of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, admitted that Jho Low was a master schemer and manipulator.
Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd (IPSB) managing director Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman testified that Najib was shocked and upset upon learning someone had transferred RM42 million into his Ambank private accounts without his knowledge.
Testimonies of former Civil Servants’ Pension (KWAP) former chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Azian Mohd Noh, ex-Secretary to the Federal Cabinet, Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid and several witnesses from the treasury department were strong enough to confirm that Najib never abused his power to secure government guarantees to secure the KWAP’s RM4 billion loan for SRC International.
The Najib-SRC Trial confirmed that the RM2.6 billion that Pakatan Harapan (PH) accused Najib of stealing from 1MDB, was indeed an Arab donation.
Ex-Ambank managing director, Cheah Tek Kuang testified that he had assisted Najib to open the private accounts to facilitate transfers of the political donation from Saudi Arabia in 2011.
Cheah told the court he had officially informed then BNM Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz about it.
Zeti had given the green light for Najib to receive the funds.
Cheah had also submitted to Zeti copies of two official letters from the Saudi Arabia Kingdom in 2011 confirming the cash gifts to Najib.
Najib had duly followed the procedures to receive the Saudi political donation. Didn’t he?
Joanna Yu also told the court that Najib’s Arab donation was common knowledge in the banking sector.
There was no secrecy and BNM knew about it from day one.
The case investigation officer Rosli Hussain also confirmed the donation.
The court also heard from Rosli and other key witnesses that Najib had returned large amounts of unutilised funds to the Arab donor via the same sender’s account.
Rosli’s original recommendation was to charge SRC International’s ex-CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd’s (IPSB) finance director Datuk Abdul Aziz Ismail.
All three were allegedly involved in transferring funds in and out of various bank accounts, including Najib’s private accounts in Ambank.
Bank documents produced as evidence in court showed that RM27 million and RM5 million were deposited into Najib’s accounts on December 26, 2014, while another RM10 million was transferred into Najib’s account on February 10, 2015.
The Najib-SRC Trial revealed that SRC International’s former CEO Nik Faizal Ariff Kamil was the main executioner of Jho Low’s manipulation.
Jho Low’s friend Nik Faisal was authorised to fully manage Najib’s Ambank accounts.
Former SRC director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin’s signatures were found forged in many bank documents submitted by Nik Faisal.
Ambank branch manager R. Uma Devi revealed the duplication, which was later proven by a defence’s slide show conducted in the courtroom.
But both Nik Faisal and Jho Low were not hauled up to testify!
Since end of 2014 until today, PH, led by the mercurial Tun Mahathir Mohamad, has misled the people to assume that Pekan MP Najib was a “crook.”
PH leaders conducted an aggressive campaign, cluttered by malicious lies, half-truths and half-lies, to exploit and transform 1MDB’s cash flow problems into misappropriation of public funds.
For over 5 years, they falsely depicted the nation’s 6th Prime Minister (PM6) as a “thief, robber and bandit” who had cheated to loot public money through 1MDB.
Their successful “end justifies the means” campaign knocked the long-serving Barisan Nasional (BN) off its perch in Putrajaya the 14th General Election (GE14) and, installed PH as the new federal government and Mahathir, the former PM4, as PM7.
Post-election, since PH had overused the 1MDB shibboleth to oust BN, Mahathir had no other choice but to charge Najib to maintain his vindictive public perception game.
Had Najib not charged, the public perception would have drastically gone against Mahathir and PH.
But now the trials have begun to convince the people that Najib was a victim of financial manipulation and political persecution.
Many people are beginning to believe that Najib was not the cheater who stole the people’s money.
It seems he was cheated and manipulated by those whom he entrusted with responsibilities and accountability, hence a victim of CBT.
As more truths emerge, Mahathir and PH may be been trapped in a Catch 22 situation, thanks to their own game of delusional perception.
They could pay a heavy price for it.