Fear Drives Unkind, Unrelenting Media Attacks On Rosmah

Rosmah, like others, may see happier times if former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak beats the odds and regains leadership role!

Online news portal subscribers, responsible for a needless RM500K fine not so long ago for contempt of court on the Musa Aman corruption case among others, have rushed to judgment and labelled former First Lady Rosmah Mansor as narcissist.

There were potshots taken at family members as well for no rhyme or reason. It’s not the done thing to kick a person when he or she is down. Judge not a person by the manner in which he or she “falls” but the manner in which he or she “rises” after every “fall”.

Already, to digress a little, Umno is suing Malaysiakini and Astro Awani for allegedly publishing “distorted news” on the party. These are by no means exceptions in the media on self-censorship, imposing censorship and denying the right of reply to even their own content.

If Barisan Nasional (BN) seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya in GE15, there are no prizes for guessing which “distorted news purveyors” would be in court every day until thy kingdom come and/or until driven to insolvency for denying the right of reply, among others. In Karma — the law of cause and effect — those who block the “clear energy” will be moved out of the way.

The unrelentess attacks in the media against Rosmah, former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and their Family, and Trial by Media should be brought before the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the Najib Administration 2009 to 2018. It’s about the finality of closure based on speaking truth to power and reconciliation.

If the Najib Administration 2009 to 2018 does not stand indemnified, has no immunity, no implicit Pardon for “acts in office”, then all hell would break loose. Every Prime Minister can be dragged to court as the floodgates are released and Pandora’s Box opens.

If Najib can be dragged to court for “acts in office” from 2009 to 2018, Mahathir Mohamad isn’t above the law from 1981 to 2003. Mahathir stays in a glasshouse and throws stones at all and sundry, especially Najib, as he allegedly schemes, plots and connives to get political rivals out of the way and install his family in power, permanently if possible. Deja Vu!

Great Distress

The media, as evident in the unsavoury comments by Malaysiakini subscribers on Rosmah, invariably includes and distorts in the same breath any statement by Yana Najib, the daughter in great distress, in the social media. Apparently, none are reported straight even when plagiarising FaceBook posts.

Najib’s son, Nizar, has also come under the media’s anti-Rosmah fury for mentioning Nelson Mandela and the father in the same sentence. The point may be made that both leaders suffered political detention.

Najib may have run foul of Mahathir & Company after he introduced widespread reforms and progressive legislation during his Administration and gave out cash handouts to the people in an unprecedented move advised by the World Bank and IMF.

In taking the cue from the many charitable and social activities, all allegedly vilified by the media editorialising in news reports, no one in the right mind would label Rosmah as narcissist.

The media, purveyors of prejudice, bias and hate against Rosmah, ignore the elephant in the room: Article 153, the New Economic Policy (NEP) and the quota system, whether being observed in the breach, or otherwise, and political donation.

Let’s not go there. It’s a story for another day along with the Federal government’s non-compliance on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA’63), one of the three ultimate political documents in the Constitution. The other two, for those unfamiliar, are the Federation of Malaya Agreement of 1948 and the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957.

Subscribers Run Amok

In other ways too, the media looked the other way as “hysterical” subscribers ran foul of commenting terms and community standards. They made much of the High Court Ruling against Rosmah on the so-called RM1.25b solar power project in Sarawak and virtually ran amok.

The details in the ruling show that Rizal Mansor himself, Rosmah’s Aide and prosecution witness, said that his female boss would never get involved in lobbying for government projects. The husband, Najib, had warned her against it, not wishing the family to be under duress from perfect strangers self-servingly citing Article 153, the New Economic Policy (NEP 1970 to 1990), quota system and political donation.

In a bizarre development, probably a first in the criminal justice system, Rosmah went from being a potential witness for the defence to being the accused. Rizal, the accused for nearly two years, found the charges against him dropped in a dramatic turn of events.

It reeks of corruption. In return, in a contradiction in terms, Rizal was literally forced to become a prosecution witness against his former boss. It was plea bargaining which has no place in Malaysia’s criminal justice system under the adversarial system of justice.

The Defence lawyer asked Rizal whether he wasn’t ashamed, considering the lifestyle he led, despite drawing only RM7K a month . . . a fleet of luxury cars and flying by private jet here and there with family and for umrah every year. He replied, without batting an eyelid, that he wasn’t ashamed. He attributed the lifestyle to political donation.

Obviously, in his own words in court, Rizal derived personal benefits from the so-political donation and thereby ran foul of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 on bribery and corruption. He walks free. It’s not rocket science that he must have received assurances from MACC and Prosecution, during plea bargaining, that he won’t be prosecuted for the corrupt lifestyle.

Police Report

Rosmah should use Rizal’s statement in court on lifestyle to lodge a police report against him, the MACC and ad hoc Prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram and complain at the Magistrate’s Court. The Magistrate, if not the police, will take action.

Questions arise: When Rizal collects political donations, they are not considered bribery and corruption but it appears the reverse in Rosmah’s case, although there’s no evidence she received and/or collected political donations. There’s no proof that she collected bribes.

Yet, the MACC, Prosecution and High Court accepted Rizal as a credible witness against Rosmah. Sri Ram implied in a video link that it was all about securing a conviction probably “by hook or by crook” in explaining “prosecutorial discretion”. Otherwise, he confessed, no one will be convicted.

The new spin by the prosecution was that Rosmah allegedly received certain monies from the company behind the solar project, reportedly non-existent, through Rizal. The company, one of the many involved in supplying gensets to schools in rural Sarawak, has no credibility.

Apparently, it lobbied to get rid of the other genset-supplying companies. It aspired to be the sole company supplying solar power to schools in rural Sarawak.

The Federal government had other plans. It wanted schools in rural Sarawak connected to the national grid.

As evident from complaints in the media by Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, the Federal government cut off payments to the company after it reportedly supplied gensets — allegedly at inflated prices — to some schools in rural Sarawak.

Putrajaya has probably discovered that the company was behind the non-existent solar project as well. It’s not known whether the company received any funds from the Federal government for the solar project. No one in the Sarawak government knows anything about the solar project in the Territory. Sabah and Sarawak had long given up on billion ringgit projects from the Federal government. The RM30b+ Pan Borneo Highway, the exception, was introduced by Najib and aborted by Mahathir after GE14.

Evidence Act

It was hearsay by both Rizal and the company, on the alleged transfer of monies to Rosmah, since there was no corroborating evidence by the two parties under the Evidence Act 1950. In criminal cases, where the Test of the Burden of Proof remains “beyond reasonable doubt”, circumstantial evidence cannot be accepted.

The High Court failed to consider that former Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin could not possibly have had the RM187.5 million, whether solicited or otherwise, to give to Rosmah reportedly through Rizal in 2016, unless there was the availability of funds which originated from the Federal government.

No ordinary person or company has that kind of money lying around just for payment of bribes for a genuine contract which may be rendered unsustainable. RM187.5 million is a relatively small sum for the alleged taker — Rosmah or Rizal — if the solar project is a bogus contract.

Two other charges were that Rosmah allegedly received RM5 million from Saidi, through Rizal, at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya on Dec 20, 2016, and another RM1.5 million allegedly from Saidi at Jalan Langgak Duta on Sept 7, 2017, after the solar power project was “approved”.

Where’s the money? The money is the proof. In previous cases, MACC would note down the serial number of the notes.

Malaysian Contracts Act

Under the Malaysian Contracts Act, in the civil court, no party will be compelled to comply with the terms of contract. The court, at best, can only offer compensation for breach of contract. The claimant, if there’s no counter claim, must quantify the compensation at the asst registrar’s office.

The court will decide on the quantum. The claimant, if unhappy with the quantum, can appeal to the superior court. If there’s a counterclaim, the court will first decide on the matter. If the counterclaim succeeds, the claim may cease to exist unless there are mitigating circumstances.

The court will first rule on whether the contract was valid in law. The court has no jurisdiction if the court is invalid in law.

In cheating cases, involving contracts, the police and the criminal court come in.

The High Court, in Rosmah’s case, did not probe whether the solar project existed in law since it’s a civil case matter on validity. The High Court, Ruling on a criminal case, only looked at whether Rosmah derived personal benefits based on alleged bribery and corruption. She could not be charged with abuse of power, conflict of interest and criminal breach of trust.

Political Contribution

The term “political contribution” was mentioned in the High Court Ruling against Rosmah.

There’s no law in Malaysia on political donation, no law against it, and no law discouraging it.

The Singapore Straits Times held recently “That, in turn, gave well-positioned Umno leaders, particularly the president, the power to control the patronage process through the creation of political slush funds disguised as businesses, such as 1MDB, that funded the party’s activities nationwide”.

The MACC sees a thin line between political donations on the one hand and bribery and corruption. One could be easily turned into the other by the prosecution in criminal court.

Former Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, for example, was freed of 46 corruption charges on Mon 8 June 2020 after he claimed that the RM380m he collected — it was allegedly bribed for timber contracts — was a political donation. The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) did not go after Musa for taxes due on the RM380m. MACC and Bank Negara did not freeze, seize and forfeit the RM380m, under civil action, for allegedly money laundering activities.

Public Perceptions

Media reports from before GE13, in 2013, show that Mahathir went on a tirade against Rosmah and Najib, to build up public perceptions against the inseparable duo and family. The feud extended as far as their family ties in Kazakhstan.

Mahathir has been notorious for using the system — read including the court — for getting political rivals out of the way, permanently if possible, otherwise at least temporarily so that the Mahathir family can “buy time” to re-group, re-organise, re-position and counter-attack. Mahathir wants his family in power, permanently if possible, like the absolute monarchs of old in Kerala, for example, Mahathir’s roots in southwest India. — NMH

About the writer: Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez keeps a keen eye on Malaysia as a legal scholar (jurist). He was formerly Chief Editor of Sabah Times. He is not to be mistaken for a namesake previously with Daily Express. References to his blog articles can be found here.

The points expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of NMH.

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