Leaders should be free from any court cases, political experts say

03 Dec 2022 10:57am
Anwar, Zahid Hamidi.
Anwar, Zahid Hamidi.

SHAH ALAM – The unveiling of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) unity government yesterday has incited many reactions, especially to the naming of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM).

While some congratulated Zahid and believed that he had the experience to handle the number two post in the government well, considering that he had assumed the same role before, several political analysts opined that he should not be appointed for the DPM role at the moment.

This was due to his ongoing corruption charges which were still pending in Court.

Political expert Dr Syaza Shukri said that she believed a leader of a country should be free from any court cases.

“I think Zahid lobbied hard for the position whereas the PH court cluster was relatively silent and willing to give way as long as Anwar Ibrahim is the Prime minister.

“Syed Saddiq (Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman) is a part of the court cluster who is left out, but why can Zahid be appointed as a DPM?”, she told Sinar Daily.

Echoing Syaza’s view, political analyst Dr Abdul Aziz Azizam also did not agree with Zahid being the new DPM as he believed that Malaysia would not be able to put our benchmark to other countries when there was indeed a moral problem.

“The urge from Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (PKR vice-president), Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and non-governmental organisation Bersih who want the cabinet to be appointed must be free from any court cases is a good thing especially since we are in the process of restoring the trust to the world and at the same time building up our good image reputation," he said.

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The appointment of Zahid was said to be stemmed from the need to keep the Umno president

Another political expert Ibrahim Suffian stated that Zahid would need to be humble and commit himself to rehabilitate Umno and rejuvenate the party in the upcoming party election.

“He (Zahid) needs to respect the rule of law and submit to the ruling of the courts with respect to his case,” he said.

Meanwhile, political expert Prof Madya Dr Ummu Atiyah Ahmad Zakuan expressed her disappointment to see Zahid from the court cluster to be appointed in the cabinet.

“This government is the new form of government (unity government) which we have never experienced before, and the sentiment of good governance and integrity, efficiency often resonated from the PM himself, during the election campaign and after he was sworn in as the PM.

“In his address to the public servants in Putrajaya recently, he also emphasized ‘islah’, which means, making improvement, yet we see an MP from Court Cluster still being appointed”, she said.

The dissatisfaction over Zahid's inclusion in the unity government stems from his court cases, where he is facing 35 charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi, as well as charges of accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as the home minister under the previous BN government.

In September, he was acquitted of 40 charges related to bribes from a company to extend its foreign visa system contract.

Last night, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) senior vice-president Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusuf, who represented Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as the DPMs.

The appointment of Fadillah as DPM was historic as he is the first Sarawak MP to hold the position.