Innocent until guilty, Anwar responds to calls against ‘court cluster’ appointments to Cabinet

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Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim today said that a person is innocent until proven guilty, responding to calls to exclude MPs facing corruption charges from his future Cabinet.

When asked about the possibility of Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being appointed, Anwar said he would take “everyone’s views into account”.

“But we know in terms of the law, only after there is a punishment meted out (when a person is proven guilty by the court)… others (who are not yet proven guilty) we can consider,” Bernama quoted him as saying after chairing a Pakatan Harapan (PH) meeting at the PKR headquarters.

This comes amid speculation that Zahid is likely to be appointed as Anwar’s deputy, triggering a warning from electoral reforms coalition Bersih.

“Bersih strongly objects to the appointment of any person who has an ongoing criminal case against him/her to any Cabinet position as they would raise doubts about the integrity of Anwar’s government and tarnish the reputation of our country,” said Bersih, adding that PH leaders such as Lim Guan Eng and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman should not be made part of the new Cabinet, either.

Zahid, who as Barisan Nasional chairman committed all 30 of the coalition’s MPs to back Anwar as prime minister last week, is facing 47 charges related to criminal breach of trust involving Yayasan Akalbudi.

Prosecutors are applying against his acquittal from another 40 corruption charges related to the foreign visa system scandal.

The court cluster refers to a group of Umno MPs led by jailed former leader Najib Razak and Zahid, who face hundreds of corruption and bribery charges.

PH made the fight against corruption part of its recent election campaign, and its leaders had repeatedly pledged that they would not work with such individuals in any future government.

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