PM Najib May Face A Lawsuit From The Malaysian Bar For Abuse Of Power In The 1MDB Probe

The tasks of the Malaysian Bar, among others, is to protect the rule of law and when there seemed to be a breach, it has to stand up against it.

Cover image via DW

Malaysian Bar President Steven Thiru, during the passing of a resolution on the 1MDB scandal by the Bar at its extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in KL Saturday, 12 September, said PM Najib Razak may face a lawsuit for abuse of power in the 1MDB probe

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Image via KiniBiz

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru has proposed a motion at the EGM seeking approval from members to enable the Bar Council to sue anyone who interferes with investigations on financial impropriety allegations involving state investment firm 1MDB as well as on the transfer of RM2.6 billion and the alleged flow of RM42 million from former 1MDB subsidiary, SRC International, to Najib’s personal accounts.

"The suit would be under misfeasance in public office or the tort of abuse of power of authority in using his power for ulterior purpose. There will be several defendants including the PM. It is not limited to senior or superior government officers who gave the order."

The Malaysian Bar's EGM achieved quorum, there were 1,040 lawyers present, where members voted overwhelmingly to sue those deemed responsible for hindrance to the on-going probe

There are 16,000 lawyers registered with the Malaysian Bar.

The motion was tabled by Thiru himself in light of what had been revealed over 1MDB following reports in The Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report since July as well as reports of obstruction on the officers investigating the 1MDB.

“We had seen multiple acts of interference, the attorney-general was removed, a Special Branch director replaced, his deputy transferred (to PM's Department), two Attorney-General’s Chambers officers being investigated by the police, the transfer of MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) officers and investigations on them and the Public Accounts Committee derailed,” said Thiru.

While not discounting the possibility that Najib and other senior civil servants could be among those facing the suit, Thiru said:

"Let me reiterate that this resolution today is not coming to a conclusion of guilt on anyone but to express concern over the harassment going on in the on-going investigations and to uphold and restoring the rule of law with regards to the investigations."

The Bar also voted to call for a formation of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion donation to PM Najib

“We’re looking at the RCI to put the investigations back on track,” Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru told a press conference after the EGM.

The head of the legal professional body based in peninsular Malaysia said it was in Najib’s interest to recommend an RCI and to allow investigations to run unhindered. “We’ll write to the government and ask for the RCI to be set up as soon as possible,” he said.

However, an RCI can only be formed by the Agong upon recommendation by the Prime Minister. As such, the head of the legal professional body called on PM Najib to not stand in the way of an RCI.

Thiru, flanked by vice-president George Varghese, secretary Karen Cheah and treasurer Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, emerged from the two-hour EGM to speak to journalists on the resolution.

On the proposed law suit, Thiru said this was not the first time such action was taken against malfeasance of public office.

“There has been two or three cases in the past on this and it is not new. The Bar would sought a declaratory relief to go out against abuse of power which subvert or interfere in the administration of justice.”

On being asked if the RCI would get the PM's approval, Thiru said:

"It is in the interest of the PM to allow unhindered, investigations done through an RCI, as the result may exonerate him and it would look better for him.

"It is a win-win situation (for the PM) to have it (the RCI) and put back on track the investigations and upholding and restoring the rule of law," he said.

When asked on the possibility of someone filing an injunction to prohibit the implementation of the resolution to stop the RCI or the filing of the lawsuit, he said: "We'll strenuously fight such actions."

Image via Malaysiakini


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