C4 claims letting Umno back into power could see leaders escape corruption charges

Jerry Choong
Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4)’s Cynthia Gabriel at the Bersih 2.0 and 34 NGOs press conference February 24, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, Feb 24 — An anti-corruption activist has expressed fears that a new government formed with elements of Barisan Nasional may lead to the dismissal of corruption charges against former leaders.

Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel said this is especially the case with Umno, which she said is “very disturbing”.

“We are concerned that the alignment of Azmin-led MPs with Umno and PAS will also mean aligning with individuals who face corruption charges in court,” she told Malay Mail following a press conference by electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0.

She was referring to Datuk Seri Azmin Ali who led a group of 11 MPs out of PKR to become independent.

Gabriel added these individuals will likely attempt to use the new political alliance so as to save themselves and to get the charges dropped.

“We absolutely abhor such a thing, and resist it. Those found stealing public money have to be punished for it.

“So ultimately there are no shortcuts to form a backdoor government to save their own skins,” she said.

She said if Umno were to form part of the new government, then the party cannot be seen or conceived as attempting to rescue their former leaders.

“Now we are also worried this could go all the way to them changing the incumbent Chief Justice, so as to sort out the court cases so that none of them will face any prison penalties.

“If it leads to that, this also raises the question of compromising the independence of judicial institutions,” Gabriel said.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is facing seven charges involving money laundering, abuse of power, and money laundering over RM42 million of SRC International funds, with the potential of 20 years’ imprisonment if found guilty.

His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor is on trial for allegedly soliciting RM187.5 million in bribes and receiving RM6.5 million in bribes related to a solar energy project in Sarawak.

Others facing charges include former Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor for allegedly receiving RM2 million from a property developer, as well as Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who faces 47 charges related to corruption, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering concerning funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

A series of political meetings yesterday between Parti Pribumi Bersatu, Umno, PAS, and PKR factions loyal to then-deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali culminated in 131 MPs gathering at the Sheraton Hotel Petaling Jaya for a consensus dinner.

Since then, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has resigned from his position, as well as the chairmanship of Bersatu. The party itself has left the coalition, while Azmin and PKR vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin have been sacked from the party.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong summoned Dr Mahathir to the Istana Negara for an audience at 5pm today, with speculation rife that a new coalition government will be formed.

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