It is wrong for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to keep insisting that he acted on the advice of the police with regard to the Internal Security Act (ISA) dragnet in 1987 and Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy case, constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari said.
According to the DAP member, it is better for the former prime minister, from a moral standpoint, to admit that he had erred in his judgment.
Aziz pointed out that in a parliamentary system like Malaysia’s, it is the sitting government that has the final word and takes the blame.
“The law cannot be read literally, otherwise dictatorship will come in through the back door. Just like the notion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appointing the government on discretion. It is the literal reading of this notion that has created problems all these years.
“ISA detention is essentially an executive detention that exists in countries like Malaysia. It is a legacy of the colonial rule that is against democracy.
“The same with prosecution where the process starts with the police investigation. Cases like the ones mentioned above need the green light or political approval. Just like a royal pardon, the Agong does not act on his own, although he has a great share in the final decision,” he added in a statement.
Mahathir has made ‘a fool of himself’
Aziz said if it were true the police made the decisions, this would mean Malaysia had a “stupid” prime minister and a police force that controlled everything.
“We know Mahathir was playing politics but in the process, he has made a fool of himself,” he added.
Aziz suggested that if Pakatan Harapan formed the federal government, then a reconciliation committee must be set up with regard to these past episodes involving its chairperson.
In the meantime, he called on the police to clear the air.
“Of course, in a parliamentary system the service is part of the government but since Mahathir has pointed his finger at them, the force must answer,” he added.
On the same note, Aziz said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak cannot capitalise on this as he was also part of the system when the incidents occurred.
The constitutional law expert pointed out that the cardinal principle of a democratic nation is that the elected or sitting government makes critical decisions, such as going to war, denying personal liberties and so forth.
He said the military and police, as part of the public service, merely advice and enforce the decisions.
“They are not elected and therefore cannot be made responsible to Parliament. As such they can’t be the ones who make the final decision,” he added.
Whatever the case, Aziz said, Mahathir is responsible for what transpired and cannot resort to selective amnesia as before
“But the time will come for him to pay back for what he did That is when Harapan is up there in Putrajaya. Umno-BN won’t do it,” he added.