It would appear that the ACA is not only under the dictates of the Prime Minister in the government as to what it could or could not do, who it could or could not prosecute, in its fight against corruption, it has now to be subject to the UMNO Supreme Council as to what it could or could not investigate as well!
This is a big letdown to Malaysians who had hoped that ACA will have enhanced powers as a result of the new Anti-Corruption Act 1997 to launch a full-scale war against corruption - as the ACA now seems to be even more impotent than before the new anti-corruption law was passed!
The UMNO Supreme Council decision is a belated realisation by the UMNO leadership that the Murad statutory declaration accusing Anwar of having amassed a RM3 billion fortune while in government through over 20 "Master Accounts" have back-fired for two reasons:
Firstly, its credibility is unbelievably low, in view of the so many "holes" in the statutory declaration. Murad has not only been unable to furnish one iota of evidence to substantiate his extraordinary allegations, not even able to give the account number of the Master Account which he allegedly operated to disburse RM120 million to various named individuals and organisations. Furthermore, Murad has not been able to establish the truth of at least one of his numerous allegations in the statutory declaration although it is now one week since he made his allegations public.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Aliran, ABIM, Datuk Nasaruddin Jalil, Marina Yusof and even Malaysiaís special envoy to the United Natioins Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad have all denied Muradís allegations, with Chandra taking the lead in filing a RM70 million defamation suit against Murad.
Secondly, the zeal with which UMNO leaders have tried to demonstrate their "loyalty" to "out-Murad" Murad have seriously compromised their integrity and even made them vulnerable to prosecution for corruption offences.
For instance, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, revealed on Tuesday that a mentri besar had admitted to her that he had paid several UMNO division chiefs to nominate Anwar Ibrahim to challenge Tun Ghafar Baba for the number two post in the 1993 UMNO elections.
She said that after Anwar was sacked from the party, the mentri besar came to her office to tell her about the episode, saying "this is the hand that had paid several division chiefs to nominate Anwar for the fight against Ghafar". It is clear that the person Rafidah is referring to is still a Mentri Besar today.
I had demanded that ACA Director-General Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin initiate immediate investigations of Rafidah Aziz for the identity of the Mentri Besar who had paid several UMNO division chiefs to nominate Anwar to challenge Ghafar Baba and to charge him for corruption.
Or has the ACA now to get the approval of the UMNO Supreme Council or the UMNO President before it could interrogate Rafidah?
Last Sunday, UMNO Secretary-General and Information Minister, Tan Sri Mohd Khalil Yaakob said that UMNO leaders, including Menteris Besar, who want to expose their dealings with Anwar need not seek the approval of the UMNO Supreme Council.
He said it was an individualís right to expose their personal experiences with the former Deputy Prime Minister.
He said: "We cannot and will not stop them. They can even write a memoir about their experiences when they held positions (in the party). If they wish to reveal their experiences (with Anwar) to the supreme council, we will listen".
But in four short days, the UMNO Secretary-General was embarrassed when the UMNO Surpreme Council took a somesault and imposed a gag on all such so-called revelations about Anwarís "misdeeds" without first getting the "greenlight" from the UMNO President.
The explanation given by UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the unusual ruling was to ensure that any disclosure made was supported by documentary proof.
"We must have full documentation so that whatever disclosure made could be substantiated."
He said the party would ensure that there would be no wild allegations as these could not be defended if challenged in court.
"If the members have anything (to disclose) they should inform me first, I will look through and if I feel that it needs to be supported by documents, I will ask them (members concerned) to obtain the documents.
"If they can't get (the documents) then we cannot disclose because it will be difficult to defend any disclosure that tarnishes other people without evidence," he said.
This is most shocking and even outrageous. Muradís allegations in his statutory declaration were completely unsupported by any documentary proof, yet the entire Barisan Nasional leadership including the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, Chief Ministers and Mentris Besar all took them as gospel truth and launched into a relentless attack on Anwar -and the mass media, both printed and electronic, were instructed to give front-page or prime time coverage although l the Murad allegations unsupported by documentary proof were nothing but "wild allegations"!
What is worse, following Murad's expose, several Umno members including the Johore Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Othman said they planned to disclose the alleged wrongdoings of Anwar that they were aware of.
Even Khalil himself said that he would disclose corrupt practices by Anwar in Pahang, where he was at the time the Mentri Besar.
Why now the "cold feet" by the UMNO leadership?
Khalil said it was an individualís right to expose any corrupt practices. I would say that it is more than an individualís right - it is his responsibility, and he would be breaking the law if a person, even if he is Johore or Pahang Mentri Besar, withholds information about any offence which had been committed!
The UMNO Supreme Council decision is a blatant challenge to the rule of law and the cause of justice. The Anti-Corruption Act does not invest power on any political party, even though in government, to vet disclosure of corruption offences and UMNO Supreme Council should stop trying to be "a government within a governmentí to usurp the powers of the ACA.
I call on Mahathir to demonstrate his respect for the rule of law by calling for an emergency meeting of the UMNO Supreme Council to rescind this unlawful decision.