29 September 2022

Prosecution appeal in Zahid’s VLN case...

Why prosecution’s appeal 
in Zahid’s VLN case justified...

Umno president and former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s acquittal without even his defence being called on 40 corruption charges came as a shock and appears to indicate that the prosecution case was weak. Is it indeed the situation? 

Would the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) dare to have prosecuted a former deputy prime minister and home minister for serious offences without having sufficient grounds? Was the case that was made out so far so weak that the presiding judge had to rule that there was no prima facie evidence to warrant a trial? If it was so weak, why would the AGC even bother prosecuting the case?

Briefly, Zahid was acquitted of all graft charges in relation to the Foreign Visa System (VLN). Shah Alam High Court judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa ruled last week that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case and its three key witnesses were unreliable.

The witnesses were former Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) administrative manager David Tan Siong Sun and former UKSB directors Harry Lee Vui Khiun and Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani. As a result, the court also declined to accept the UKSB ledger as convincing evidence after finding its creator, Tan, had zero credibility.

The former deputy prime minister was charged with 33 counts of receiving bribes from UKSB amounting to SG$13.56 million (RM43.6 million) between 2014 and 2017. Another seven charges accused Zahid of obtaining SG$1.15 million, RM3.125 million, 15,000 Swiss francs (RM70,000) and US$15,000 (RM68,000) from the same company.

The trial judge further said that a crucial element of the case was how the money was delivered. "I simply cannot imagine what envelope (and) in what size could fit the SG$600,000 in cash which was equivalent to around RM1.6 million at the material time," he said.

However, the judge may well have been a bit too harsh here. According to a Thomson Reuters publication, the term prima facie is used to “in both civil and criminal law to denote that, on its face, sufficient evidence exists to support a case.”

The case of SG$600,000...

It added, “In most proceedings, one party (usually the claimant) must discharge a burden of proof by adducing prima facie evidence to establish its claim, having regard to the relevant standard of proof. “Prima facie evidence of a matter, unless rebutted by cogent evidence to the contrary (meeting the requisite standard of proof), is sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact.”

While the judge dismissed the evidence of three witnesses as not credible, he does not appear to have set out on what basis they were considered to be so, except for one which was widely reported and commented upon by netizens - the SG$600,000 and how the judge was puzzled that it could be delivered in an envelope. It now emerges that a SG$10,000 note is still legal tender although Singapore has stopped issuing them. It would require just 60 of such notes to make up SG$600,000. That would easily fit into an envelope.

The judge obviously missed this very important point which could have explained the way the money was delivered. This alone could be enough to warrant an appeal to higher courts by the prosecution. There may well be more reasons after reading the grounds of judgment. Attorney-general Idrus Harun said earlier the prosecution will have to examine the judgment from all graft charges related to the VLN before deciding on an appeal.

Yesterday, The Edge reported, quoting sources, that the prosecution has filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision to acquit Zahid on all 40 charges in the VLN case. If the report is correct, it is a welcome move. This is a case of rather high importance and there are already clear indications that it may not be appropriate to let a single judge decide on the issues which arise.

Under the circumstances, the high level of public interest and continued scepticism of the trial judge’s finding, the best thing for the AGC to do would be to take this to the Court of Appeal, and if necessary, to the Federal Court, the highest court in the land.

 47 counts of CBT...

Even if this case is ultimately decided in his favour, Zahid faces other charges. He was ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court early this year to enter his defence in relation to 47 counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), bribery and money laundering linked to tens of millions of ringgit of funds from Yayasan Akalbudi.

In this separate case, trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah ruled that the prosecution has established a prima facie case against the former home minister, involving 12 counts of CBT, eight bribery charges, and 27 money laundering charges.

Thus, it will be some time before Zahid clears all the charges against him - if he can, that is. The implication is that he will have continuing problems with regard to the 15th general elections and may prove to be a continuing liability to Umno and the nation. Zahid will still remain in the desperate straits he was in earlier as I explained in this column. - P.Gunasegaram,mk

Berapa banyak Negara Islam 
datang dengar ucapan Hero kita?...

Bila datang musim pilihanraya di Malaysia, pemimpin politik kita selalu heboh pasal Palestin, pasal perjuangan Palestin, bla bla bla. Untuk memancing undi Melayu.  Jadi saya nak tanya sikitlah - Palestin hadir tak untuk dengar ucapan hero kita di United Nations pada Jumaat lalu? 

Turki hadir tak? Arab Saudi hadir tak untuk dengar ucapan hero kita? Negara-negara "Islam" (yang kononnya sahabat karib kita) hadir atau tidak hadir. Kita ahli Organisation of Islamic Countries ( atau pun Oh I See). Ada tak pemimpin Oh I See datang menyokong hero kita?

Dewan UN itu nampak kosong saja bila hero kita berucap.  Buang duit tambang, buang duit sewa hotel, buang duit beli kasut dan buang duit beli baju. -  Syed Akbar Ali

Note : According to the UN rulings, these *six* are the official working languages - *Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish* . . . And any of the six shall be interpreted into the other *five* languages.

In the case of *any languages* other than the six is used, the *speech presenter* must provide his *own interpreter* to interpret into any of the 6 languages..  So basically . . . if the *PM* did not have his own interpreter, than *no one* would have *heard* his speech... Period.


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