PETALING JAYA: Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim said the principle of “separation of powers” does not forbid the authorities from launching a probe against sitting judges.
He said various individuals – from MPs to NGOs – had criticised Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Azam Baki, who was reported as saying that his office had opened an investigation following allegations over an “unexplained” sum of more than RM1 million in Court of Appeal judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali’s bank account.
“If that’s what people understand by ‘separation of powers’, then MPs cannot be probed for (alleged) corruption or other offences.
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“The judiciary has its own internal mechanism to investigate judges only on certain things, such as misconduct.
“That does not mean the police or MACC cannot investigate claims made against judges,” Zaid added.
DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng previously called out MACC for its “speedy” action against Nazlan, but not against Azam over alleged ownership of shares, while opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the Nazlan probe might be seen as a form of political pressure and interference, and a violation of the principle of separation of powers.
Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah joined the criticism against MACC, saying that constitutional procedure should be followed.
Nazlan, who was then a High Court judge, had convicted and sentenced former prime minister Najib Razak on seven charges relating to funds belonging to SRC International on July 28, 2020.
Fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, who revealed the investigation last week, also linked the money to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), the alleged mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.
Nazlan has since lodged a police report over the allegations, saying they were “false, baseless and malicious,” and aimed at undermining his credibility as a judge.
Zaid also pointed to the fact that Nazlan had lodged a police report against Raja Petra.
“If he was not confident in the investigating bodies, why did he file the report (in the first place) and be subject to investigations? He might not have done something wrong,” he said in defending Nazlan.
Zaid was the founder of law firm Zaid Ibrahim & Co and was Nazlan’s former boss.
Meanwhile, Zaid also said that Azam should disclose the outcome of MACC’s investigations as soon as possible.
“Do your job and don’t worry about the criticisms,” he told the top graft buster.