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Friday, September 23, 2011

Copycats Najib and Rosmah take a leaf from Dr M's 2001 move

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:28 AM | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Were we ever surprised that things would turn out this way? Was it ever going to be a surprise that Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor would apply to strike out the subpoena placed on their heads?

In the beginning, the couple refused to attend an interview to ascertain whether they were viable witnesses for the Sodomy II trial. They made it clear that they would only do so if a subpoena was served on them. Anwar's lawyers then applied for one, a subpoena was served and even-though the decision itself was a surprise; it was clear the motive in allowing it to happen was merely to ensure both Najib and Rosmah would never take the witness box, ever, in the Sodomy II trial.

Why is this so? Because this method to evade taking the witness stand was done before, back in 2001 by none other then ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad.
Back then, the prosecution was led by Gani Patail and he inadvertently colluded with the courts to allow the application to strike out Mahathir’s subpoena. The court decided that Mahathir was not a material witness to the 1998 sodomy trial, and thus his testimony was not relevant.
When the court decided to allow Mahathir to file an application to strike out the subpoena, the defence would have had to state in open court the relevance of the premier’s testimony to the ongoing sodomy trial. This would force the defence to reveal the evidence they had against Mahathir, something that clearly placed Anwar’s defence at a disadvantage.
Back in 2001
Lead prosecutor Gani Patail, invoking S136 of the Evidence Act, raised objections to the subpoena and said evidence to be sought from Mahathir was irrelevant to the trial. Under this section, the judge will have to rule whether evidence from a particular witness is relevant to the proceedings.
"There is no evidence that would connect the Prime Minister to the accused (Sukma). No evidence to show that the Prime Minister is a material witness in the sodomy act. He was not at the scene," Gani Patail said.
Failing to conceal his irritation, defence counsel Karpal Singh snapped: "It is not for the prosecution to state what evidence the Prime Minister is expected to give for the defence."
Arguing there is more than sufficient relevance, Karpal pointed out that an earlier witness, police officer SAC Musa Hassan, had testified that the principal witness in the sodomy trial, Azizan Abu Bakar, had met with Mahathir. Azizan, in his evidence, confirmed the meeting.
Karpal, raising his voice, accused the prosecution of trying to assist Mahathir by going the extra mile to prevent him from testifying.
"There is more than sufficient relevance for Mahathir to testify. So, why the fright? Why the clambering to the Prime Minister’s assistance to ensure he does not come to court?"
Acting for the PM
Repeatedly saying that he is "not acting for the Prime Minister", Gani Patail reminded the court it has the power and is in fact duty bound to ask the defence to show the relevancy of Mahathir’s testimony.
Gani Patail indeed has experience in twisting the law and the courts to his whims and fancy. More so now that he is the Attorney General. Most Malaysians will say there is no doubt that he was in direct consultation with Najib and Rosmah, and would have advised them every step in this case.
The same line of questioning Karpal had for Gani in 2001 can apply for Najib and Rosmah in 2011. Why the fright? Why the clambering by the AG and the courts to ensure that they do not come to court? Why the about-turns and demands and threats when the court of law is the best place to prove one’s innocence?
Come September 29th we will hear what the courts have to say about Najib’s bid to strike out the subpoena but much of the usual can be expected. This script has been played before and it will be re-played, striking once again at the soul of the Malaysian judiciary. Until when will we see true justice prevail? And not just for Anwar but for all. Hopefully, it will be in this life-time.

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