Court's decision in Zahid's case will affect by-elections - Analyst
ALOR SETAR - The Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to discharge but not acquit Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is believed to have an impact on the Pulai Parliamentary and Simpang Jeram state assembly by-elections in Johor and the Pelangai state assembly by-election in Pahang.
Political analyst Dr Ahmad Zaharuddin Sani Ahmad Sabri stated that it is not impossible for voters in these three areas to be influenced by sentiments of dissatisfaction with the court's decision.
According to him, the results of these by-elections will serve as a referendum on Zahid's release if Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidates lose.
"We will see what signal the people send in these three by-elections.
"I believe there are those who disagree with the court's decision, and it may influence the election results.
"It will reinforce the belief that Umno should be retained as the main opposition party because this action has reduced public support for the Unity Government," he said to Sinar today.
Ahmad Zaharuddin Sani expected that if the campaign 'reject PH, reject Umno' is played by opposing parties, it will affect PH candidates.
"I also believe that if Pulai is won by Perikatan Nasional (PN), several more Umno leaders will leave the party, perhaps for the same reason (dissatisfaction with Zahid's court decision), and this will shake the Unity Government," he explained.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court decided on Monday to discharge Zahid without acquitting him of 47 charges of corruption, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering involving RM31 million from the Akalbudi Foundation, at the request of the prosecution, which claimed there was no strong evidence to prove his guilt.
The decision sparked various reactions from political leaders, non-governmental organisations, lawyers, and the public, who considered it an insult to justice, integrity, and the anti-corruption struggle.
Ahmad Zaharuddin Sani emphasised that the court's decision also affects the credibility of the Unity Government led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which is described as having difficulty answering questions about credibility in addition to its commitment to fighting corruption and upholding the law.
"To some extent, it tarnishes Anwar's government's image, and the government needs to regain the people's trust; they need to take several steps to reassure the people.
"Among them is to re-examine Ahmad Zahid's case thoroughly and professionally without political interference or external pressure.
"At the same time, they need to explain to the people the reasons behind Ahmad Zahid's release," he said.
Furthermore, the government should take responsibility if there are any weaknesses or mistakes in the prosecution process.
"Because of this, it is time to strengthen the judiciary, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Attorney General's Chambers, and other law enforcement agencies to be more independent, effective, and transparent," he explained.
Ahmad Zaharuddin Sani also suggested that the government place the Attorney General and the MACC under the supervision of Parliament so that transparency can be implemented.
"Other suggestions include asking the Attorney General's Department to provide direct explanations in all major media outlets and answer questions transparently.
"The government must show a high commitment to combat corruption and uphold the law, regardless of someone's position or background," he added.