Malaysia

Anwar: Riza Aziz’s discharge failure to uphold rule of law, sets a dangerous precedent

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the discharge not amounting to an acquittal received by Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz reflected the current government’s lack of understanding and commitment towards actual legal reforms. — Reuters pic
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the discharge not amounting to an acquittal received by Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz reflected the current government’s lack of understanding and commitment towards actual legal reforms. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — A dangerous and “disturbing” precedent has been set by the discharging of Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz over his five money-laundering cases, as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim called the move a failure in the country’s attempt at upholding the rule of law.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Anwar said the discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) received by Riza reflected the current government’s lack of understanding and commitment towards actual legal reforms.

Anwar suggested how an apparent culture of applying different sets of laws towards those of different standings within society was evident in the outcome of Riza’s case, adding how the probe must not stop with the settlement.

“It’s a very dangerous and disturbing precedent, it reflects the lack of understanding and commitment to actual legal reform.

“I think the issue must be reopened, the issue if this Riza Aziz must be reopened, and Malaysians will generally not accept the [DNAA],” he said during the interview.

When asked how he would personally remedy the current 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) cases, Anwar said any efforts to accelerate the legal and repatriation processes would help but ultimately banked on each country’s set of laws.

“And we have failed in this regard, particularly in this recent Riza Aziz case,” he said, referring to rule of law.

This comes after an agreement had been reached between Riza’s legal representations and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), resulting in the granting of the DNAA last Thursday, over his five counts of money laundering amounting to some US$248 million (RM1.07 billion) said to have been siphoned from 1MDB.

The decision to grant Riza a DNAA has been criticised by the public following a back and forth between the MACC and former attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas over who had given the green light to grant the discharge.

To note, the final decision to grant the discharge was made under the stewardship of the current AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun, who had said the settlement had been agreed in principle by his predecessor Thomas.

These claims have been repeatedly denied by Thomas, who was appointed AG by the former Pakatan Harapan coalition, with many also calling on former Federal Court judge and appointed Senior DPP Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to justify how the agreement was made between the two parties.

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