KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — The facts clearly point to the “simple truth” that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had not denied that RM42 million had previously entered his bank accounts, eight former presidents of the Malaysian Bar said today.
In a no-nonsense statement issued by the former leaders of the professional body for lawyers, the eight had highlighted under the heading “the simple truth” the key facts about Najib’s case involving the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds.
While noting that Najib had claimed that the RM42 million were donations, the eight former presidents pointed out that all three tiers of the courts in Malaysia which had heard his case — the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court — had dismissed this assertion.
“Whilst due process is vital, it is also important to remind ourselves of the facts of the case as they were presented before the Courts. The Appellant did not deny RM42 million had entered his personal bank accounts.
“He, however, denied knowledge that the funds were from SRC. He also stated that the monies credited into his Am Islamic bank accounts were from Arab Donations,” the eight former presidents wrote in a seven-page statement, referring to Najib as the appellant.
“The High Court and Court of Appeal concurrently found the explanations of the Appellant untenable. The Federal Court agreed that was a reasonable conclusion,” they said, noting that the courts came to this conclusion based on the evidence presented to the judges.
The eight former Malaysian Bar presidents also set the record straight about what had actually happened in Najib’s final appeal at the Federal Court in his SRC case.
They firmly said it was “false” for anyone to suggest that Najib was not given a chance to present his arguments in his final SRC appeal.
Instead, they said Najib himself was the one who chose not to present arguments to the Federal Court, even after the judges gave him many chances to do so.
“Thus, it is abundantly clear that the Federal Court had given counsel for the Appellant, Najib Razak, every opportunity to make submissions on the merits but he repeatedly refused to do so. The Appellant through his counsel thus made a deliberate and considered choice NOT to make submissions on the merits.
“Hence the narrative that there was no due process accorded to the Appellant is patently false. The correct position is that Counsel for the Appellant refused to submit on the Appeals despite various opportunities afforded to him to do so,“ they said.
The statement was signed off by the eight, namely Zainur Zakaria, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, Datuk Yeo Yang Poh, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Datuk Lim Chee Wee, Steven Thiru, and Datuk George Varughese.
The eight of them also expressed “full support” for current Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah in her defence of the independence of the judiciary.
Cheah is facing possible defamation lawsuits from Najib’s current SRC counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and by Najib’s former SRC lawyers — former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and his law firm’s partners Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam — who were abruptly discharged during the SRC appeal.
This was due to her statement as Malaysian Bar president over alleged attempts — said to have been seen in the SRC case — to undermine Malaysia’s justice system and calling out of his lawyers over their alleged unprofessional conduct.
Noting that the judiciary is being attacked including through false allegations and purported leaks of alleged court documents, the eight former Bar presidents today praised the judges for their courage to deliver justice.
“We stand with the judiciary in these unprecedented times as they face an onslaught of attacks by individuals attempting to strike fear in the judges and to undermine their independence. “We commend the judges who have not flinched in the face of such appalling threats.
“The judiciary has shown that they are determined to do justice ‘though the heavens may fall’,” the eight said.
“We thus stand with the Malaysian Bar who will defend the brave judges for upholding their oath of office without fear or favour,” they concluded.
The Malaysian Bar is a professional body that as of June 27 represents a total of 21,659 lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia and the federal territories.