Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says his government is mulling the institution of a special court on corruption in response to people asking for speedy punishment of certain guilty individuals.
The PM says citizens are largely unhappy about why people known to have committed corruption crimes seem to be walking free.
He says the proposed court will expedite the resolution of corruption cases, including pending ones.
While Mahathir does not mention individuals, ex-PM Najib Razak is one of those facing corruption cases but who is still free.
The amount of freedom Najib enjoys has given him the chance to troll government ministers in and outside the parliament, attacking the government on any perceived failures it makes.
Some observers believe the recent win of the Barisan Nasional opposition front in by-elections is because of Najib’s rise as a troll figure.
The latter launched a campaign under the hashtag #bossku that hit the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in the flanks, garnering support among disgruntled Malays in particular and unexpected wins in the Cameron Highlands and Semenyih by-elections.
Najib’s lawyer Shafee Abdullah also has a corruption case against him.
Several Umno leaders are facing corruption cases but they are not as loud as Najib Razak in the defence of their persona.
Dr Mahathir says while his government does not interfere in the legal processes in the country, these matters are of great seriousness and Malaysia urgently needs a court that holds hearings against corruption cases as soon as possible.
So, it was a Special Cabinet Committee On Anti-Corruption that had met on Mar 19 and made proposals for the new court.
Dr Mahathir explained that the establishment of the special court would require legislation changes and this would impact the nature of the existing courts.
Malaysia has promised a series of changes in its laws. The PH alliance is edging closer to two third super-majority in Parliament with the leapfrogging of several Umno MPs to its side of the floor.
Together with 10 more seats from its two Sabah allied parties and the leapfrogging Umno MP’s, PH now has 139 federal MPs which is nine short of the 148 MPs needed to form a two-thirds majority in the 222-seat Parliament.
It is probable that some opposition MP’s may vote for legislation changes to showcase their support for anti-corruption efforts in the country.
The setting up of the court, which will focus on clearing past corruption cases, was in line with the National Anti-Corruption Plan.
UAmong pending cases mentioned by Dr Mahathir are that involve the construction of army camps to alter voter demographics in certain constituencies ahead of the last general election.
Some army camps were built through land swaps to expedite their construction but are empty after the general elections.