Here’s why PM Sabri & crooked Zahid
could have struck a secret deal...
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been acquitted of all 40 corruption charges on Friday (Sept 23), amid high expectations that he would be convicted. The president of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) was first charged in June 2019 under the now-toppled Pakatan Harapan administration. Since then the country has seen three prime ministers.
The acquittal means Zahid walks away free, despite the fact that he had taken bribes from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB), the company awarded a government contract for a foreign visa system (VLN). However, the UMNO president is still on trial in another corruption case where he is accused of 47 criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering charges.
Still, people should not condemn the judiciary when Zahid is acquitted, after having praised the same judiciary when Najib was convicted. It screams hypocrisy, as demonstrated by Zahid when he now brags that he has had faith in the judiciary since “day one” of his trial – contrary to his recent criticism of the same judiciary when his mentor-turn-prisoner Najib Razak was sent to jail last month.
But how could a crook like Zahid freed by the court when all evidences showed otherwise? In his ruling, Judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa said the prosecution failed to successfully prove a “prima facie” case against Zahid. Meaning the judge was not convinced that the prosecution has sufficiently established evidence to justify a verdict to convict the UMNO chief.
In the rule of law, a presumption of innocence means that any defendant in a criminal trial is assumed to be innocent until they have been proven guilty. Therefore, the burden of proof was with the prosecution to prove that Zahid was guilty. Only with prima facie established against Zahid will the burden of proof shift from prosecution to the defence, as seen in the conviction of Rosmah Mansor.
Unfortunately, the prosecution has failed to establish the fact beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant (Zahid) was guilty, leading to his acquittal. As UMNO supporters celebrate their leader’s acquittal, they are “munafiqs” or “hypocrites” who now believes in the judiciary, but keep condemning the same judiciary that had earlier convicted former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Judge Yazid said the testimonies by three key prosecution witnesses – former UKSB executives Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani and Harry Lee Vui Khiun, and former administrative manager David Tan Siong Sun – were unreliable and untrustworthy. The judge also raised his doubts whether money was delivered to and exchanged hands with Zahid.
During the trial, Harry Lee Vui Khun, a former director of Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) told the High Court that his company was paying cash in Singapore Dollars (SGD) on a monthly basis to then-former deputy prime minister Zahid Hamidi from 2014 to 2018 in relation to the Foreign Visa System (VLN) Contract. Zahid also had received sponsored overseas trip from UKSB.
The payments, started with SGD200,000 per month and began in late 2014 was increased to SGD520,000 per month some time in 2017. Zahid had received bribes amounting to SG$13.56 million from UKSB for himself as Home Minister to extend the contract of the company as the operator of OSC service in China and the supply VLN system.
The High Court judge said that although the three witnesses had testified that the brown envelope containing the money was given to Zahid, the court did not know the size of the envelope. Judge Yazid said – “I simply cannot imagine what envelope in what size would contain the S$600,000 in cash, equivalent to around RM1.6 million at the time.”
Actually, the largest and latest denomination of Singapore currency is S$10,000, which is still in circulation today. Hence, it will take only 60 pieces of S$10,000 notes to do the job. But that was not the biggest issue. The biggest problem was testimonial contradictions from the witnesses – Lee and Wan Quoris said the cash payments were delivered in an envelope, but Tan said it was done using luggage.
Additionally, monies from UKSB’s business in Hong Kong had entered Malaysia, but were not channelled into the company’s bank account. Instead, it was kept in a safe box under the supervision of Tan – raising suspicions that the witnesses too were helping themselves to the money. That’s why Judge Yazid highlighted that the three witnesses maintained a “luxurious lifestyle” and owned expensive property and vehicles.
To make matters worse, the prosecution could not produce some important witnesses who had knowledge of the source of funds, including Nicole Tan. Judge Yazid said if Nicole had been called, she would have been able to verify David Tan Siong Sun’s testimony that he received cash on a weekly basis from two money changers, who received money from Hong Kong.
The trial also became more complicated – even political – when a ledger listing payments to former prime ministers (Mahathir Mohamad and Muhyiddin Yassin), top ministers (Khairy Jamaluddin and Hishammuddin Hussein), politicians, civil servants and even a “bomoh” (shaman) was dramatically produced in the court. The ledger has undermined the credibility of the testimony.
So, the burning question is – how could the prosecution allowed its witnesses to screw up so royally? That’s the beauty of corruption after 60 years under UMNO. But the country has plunged into an entirely new level of destruction when power-crazy Muhyiddin Yassin plotted with crooks like Najib and Zahid, along with Islamist extremists like Hadi Awang, to snatch power from a democratically elected government.
Despite its 22-month rule, Pakatan Harapan’s biggest achievement in restoring judicial independence was the appointment of Tommy Thomas as Attorney General and Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat as the first woman Chief Justice, who boldly and decisively sent former premier Najib Razak to prison on August 23, 2022 after a lengthy 4 years of corruption trial linked to SRC International.
Chief Justice is the head of the Federal Court, the highest court of Malaysia and therefore, the highest position in Malaysian judicial system. Under Article 125 of the Malaysian Constitution, the chief justice can be removed only by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) on a recommendation from a tribunal consisting of at least five Federal Court judges.
In theory, the chief justice appears to be the most powerful person in the judicial system. In reality, the Attorney General is more powerful, largely because the position plays two roles – as the attorney general as well as the public prosecutor. The A.G. is the chief legal adviser to the government of the day, while the Public Prosecutor possesses prosecuting authority.
Armed with extremely wide discretion over control of all criminal prosecutions, a corrupt A.G. could, under the instruction of the Prime Minister, sabotage an existing trial through various methods. The A.G. could send inexperienced prosecutors, introduce contradictory evidence, and influence witness to change testimonies or even withdraw cases based on whatever reasons he likes.
For example, A.G. Idrus Harun, appointed by then-PM Muhyiddin, had unilaterally discharged Riza Aziz, the stepson of Najib Razak, from 5 charges of money laundering involving US$248 million misappropriated from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd). As part of a settlement, Riza Aziz was required to return just US$107.3 million worth of overseas assets.
A.G. Idrus had also freed another big crook – former Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman – after dropping all 46 corruptions and money-laundering charges against Musa. UMNO warlord Tengku Adnan was similarly freed when the A.G. stunningly withdrew its appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to acquit Tengku Adnan in an RM2 million corruption case last year.
Heck, even in the money laundering case against Ahmad Maslan, he was freed after the UMNO warlord agreed to pay a compound of RM1.1 million. And the High Court Judge could not do anything after deputy public prosecutor under A.G. Idrus Harun said it would not continue prosecuting the accused, effectively allowing UMNO crooks to escape with a slap on the wrist.
Was it a coincidence that on the same day Zahid Hamidi was freed because of unreliable prosecution witnesses, his party colleagues – Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and Bung Moktar Radin also received good news? Abdul Azeez was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal over nine corruption and money laundering charges, while Bung Moktar has been given a stay in his corruption trial.
With the exception of Najib, now every UMNO corrupt leader can still contest in the next 15th General Election. It appears that PM Ismail Sabri and Zahid Hamidi could have struck a deal. In exchange to interfering in Zahid’s foreign visa system (VLN) trial, the UMNO president would stop demanding that a general election is immediately held, releasing pressure on the premier.
The only reason Zahid vigorously beating the drums of war was because he will not be eligible to contest in the upcoming election if he is convicted. Without the timebomb hanging around his neck, he has no reason to threaten Sabri to dissolve the parliament. It’s a win-win deal – the premier can rule until next year, and Zahid can avoid the public anger of forcing an election during the monsoon season.
The turtle-egg man blinked in the game of brinkmanship. It was a brilliant strategy when Najib-Zahid hatched the plan to postpone the UMNO party election for 6 months after the 15th national election. As the party president, only Zahid can sign the letter of candidacy (“surat watikah”) for UMNO candidates to contest in the poll. Ismail Sabri was trapped.
When push comes to shove, the desperate Java-immigrant Zahid is willing to sack Sabri, who ranked only third in the party hierarchy as one of three vice-presidents. Sure, the premier might not lose power even after he is sacked from his party because the Opposition has pledged to support him. However, without his own party machinery and grassroots, Sabri is doomed.
Even the so-called young talent like Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is at the mercy of his own party leadership, crying and whining every day that he has no seat to contest. Khairy, despite trying to project himself as a clean leader, was caught smuggling prisoner Najib to Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital so that the crook could enjoy his jail terms in the hospital’s VVIP ward instead.
By freeing Zahid, at least PM Sabri could try to prolong his administration to avoid the humiliation as the shortest serving prime minister, whose current record belongs to Muhyiddin’s 17-month rule. So far, based on reactions after Zahid’s acquittal, governing partners like Hadi’s PAS and Muhyddin’s Bersatu might have involved in the deal to free Zahid.
But what about his other 47 criminal charges? Zahid can live with it, for now, because he believes not only UMNO will win big in the next election, he would finally become the next prime minister. He is the only UMNO president since independence who is not the prime minister, a humiliation he wanted to redeem. As far as Zahid is concerned, Sabri is merely warming up the seat for him.
There’s little doubt Zahid received bribes. However, by allowing even a small reasonable doubt in the trial, the prosecution – either ignorantly or deliberately – has lost the case. Crucially, you know A.G. Idrus Harun has no plan to appeal after he said the prosecution will study the judgement. One can smell a rat when UMNO leaders aligned to Zahid joined PM Sabri’s trip to New York – bird of the same feather flock together. - FT
Is Zahid a suitable PM candidate?
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must be in seventh heaven on Sept 24, Saturday, and why not. The Umno president was acquitted on 40 graft charges related to the Foreign Visa System (VLN) by the Shah Alam High Court only 24 hours earlier.
One could sense that Zahid (above), buoyed by the favourable verdict, was a different Umno leader now. He must have felt that he could now return to assert himself as the powerful party boss. A heavy burden has indeed been lifted from his shoulders.
Well, I could resonate with his statement on Facebook that “the 15th general election (GE15) is the best time to ‘punish’ party hoppers”. “They know that their worst nightmare will begin when Parliament is dissolved. The party hoppers will be ‘punished’ by their voters”, he wrote in what must surely be a buoyant and triumphant mood.
I am on the same page as the Bagan Datuk MP here as I have repeatedly stated that come GE15, the first priority for Malaysians is to ensure that the Sheraton traitors and backstabbers are voted out.
Party-hoppers, traitors, backstabbers, and betrayers are the same. Even my regular usage of the terms - parasites, leeches, and scumbags - on such wayward, despicable politicians is nothing vulgar and considered journalistically acceptable. But my agreement with Zahid’s Facebook statement ends when he mentioned that “Umno detractors are trying to sow discord inside the party, as they fear Umno’s uprising”.
I’m not too sure about an “Umno uprising” in the current state of instability in the party, that is if the term “uprising” is meant as gaining unity and strength with the ultimate goal of attaining power and forming the government. I do not wish to think that Zahid was referring to a revolt or revolution in his take on “uprising”.
Everyone wants to be PM...
What is clear now is that Zahid has returned to the days he would love a good fight with his political opponents. In fact, Umno insiders have started speculating that their president may now stake a claim for the premiership going into GE15. That is a fight Zahid would relish.
Seriously, there is nothing wrong for Zahid to aim for the PM’s post too. Everyone wants to be prime minister. Why, I can also declare that I want to be prime minister but the question I must ask myself is, what have I contributed to deserve the coveted post?
Zahid’s deputy in Umno, Mohamad Hasan, is also interested. He is gunning for the parliamentary seat of Rembau. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is also keen but like it or not, he has to join the queue. So too does Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, he is probably scheming on the sly on when to make his move. Current PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob also wants to continue as the nation’s top executive after GE15. Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin is also eyeing a return to the top post.
Why, even Dr Mahathir Mohamad at 97, is also ready to come back as PM for the third time. Who are we to deny Mahathir his right to say he is prepared to be PM, not only for the third but also the fourth and fifth time? Mahathir as PM at 100. Why not?
In essence, all politicians hope to reach the pinnacle of power one day. So does Zahid, but the Umno president must also be honest and ask himself (as we are all posing the same question too) whether he is a suitable candidate for prime minister.
Zahid will surely feel he is more than qualified as he has been the deputy prime minister in the previous BN government. But he must also be aware that being deputy prime minister does not mean you will also be prime minister one day. Ask Musa Hitam, Ghafar Baba, or Anwar Ibrahim - they were also Number Two in the past, but never Number One. So, is Zahid a suitable PM candidate? Sorry to spoil your happy mood, but my answer is negative. This is why.
‘Suicidal’ to let Zahid lead Umno in GE15...
Zahid’s personality is a setback. He is often viewed as the boisterous type, not charismatic and seriously lacks leadership qualities. He is also extremely wealthy for a politician and he is not ashamed to flaunt it. His generosity to his party warlords and supporters is said to be his power mainstay.
His multitude of corruption and money laundering charges is no surprise to many in Umno or the government. Although he has been acquitted of some 40 charges last Friday, Zahid is still facing a separate trial for criminal breach of trust, corruption, and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi. That trial is in the defence stage.
I don’t think a leader who is still facing so many criminal charges is a suitable PM candidate. I believe that Zahid himself is painfully aware of the obstacles in his path. According to Sabah Umno leader Abdul Rahman Dahlan, it would be suicidal to allow Zahid to lead Umno and the BN coalition into GE15. Rahman stressed, in a recent viral video, that no party in the world would let someone facing criminal charges lead it into an election.
I believe many in Umno are happy that Rahman has spoken on their behalf. His message to Zahid was clear and precise. Let another man lead Umno into the election. Zahid is also not an English speaker, he cannot manage the language and personally, I don’t think anyone who cannot handle English should be my prime minister.
Interestingly, Zahid took garden leave for six months as Umno president when his legal issues first surfaced in 2018/2019 and his deputy, Mohamad, acted as president. Everything was smooth sailing when Zahid was out of the scene. I doubt anything untoward will happen to Umno if Zahid is prepared to forgo his ambition to be a PM candidate. Then, Zahid’s wish for an Umno uprising where a stronger, more dynamic and stable party will emerge may eventually come true. - Francis Paul Siah
Sarcasm at its best..(Sindiran yg terbaik)...
Allowing ZH to be PM will put judiciary, SPRM, SPR, PDRM, racial & religious harmony other important institutions in a compromise & this is disastrous to the Nation and situations can become from bad to worse. - BlackCheetah8217
Zahid sebagai perdana menteri adalah bahawa bencana yang harus dielakkan oleh Malaysia walau apa cara sekalipun! Ancaman banjir, penurunan taraf ekonomi dan kemerosotan taraf hidup adalah nyata!Anehnya dalam ekosistem ini ahli politik nampaknya meletakkan kelangsungan politik dan gila kuasa mereka sendiri terlebih dahulu mengetepikan dan mengabaikan isu sebenar yang memberi kesan kepada rakyat. - Falcon
Danga Bay - JB,Johor
If Malay and Malaysians voted and Zahid ended up as PM we deserve all the pain and sufferings to come. This country badly needs a fresh head, an intelligent person, a broad minded global view leader. A confident Malay well educated, much tuned into today's global reality. A person who can stand tall among world community,confident. Zahid is a dinosaur from the 70s. Extinction is a right path. - Just a Malaysian
As years go by, PMs elected or appointed by both front doors and back doors in Malaysia do not seem to be popular in the right way. They are leaders and actors at the same time. If Zahid is next in line then we are doomed for good.- MMKD