‘Political gift not like piggy bank’

Calm and collected: Ahmad Zahid (centre) arriving at the Shah Alam High Court. — KK SHAM/The Star

SHAH ALAM: A political donation should not be like “putting money into a piggy bank on a regular basis’’, but may be a one-off payment if it was indeed a donation, the prosecution in Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial said.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran said the former deputy prime minister must also be seen as a public servant, and as such, had no business seeking and accepting funds, including political donations.

It is also an offence to do so under Section 165 of the Penal Code, Raja Rozela said in closing submissions at the Shah Alam High Court yesterday.

Raja Rozela, who is heading the prosecution team, said the law also did not recognise political donations, and politicians receiving money and calling it political donations made a mockery of the law.

She highlighted testimony by witnesses that Ahmad Zahid, who was also home minister at the time, received monthly payments from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) for four years.

She said Ahmad Zahid must first be seen as a public servant who falls within the ambit of Section 65 of the Penal Code, as opposed to a politician holding a ministerial position.

“His wages are paid by the government with taxpayers’ money and he is paid to serve the public and not for the public to serve him by delivering cash every month,’’ she said.

Raja Rozela also told Justice Mohd Yazid Mustafa that Ahmd Zahid had no business seeking funds under the pretense it was meant for his political activities.

Ahmad Zahid is charged with 33 counts of receiving bribes from UKSB during his tenure as home minister in order to extend the company’s contract to continue operating the one-stop centre in China and the Foreign Visa System (VLN).

The alleged graft was also to ensure that the contract agreement for the supply of the VLN integrated system by the company was maintained.

He also faces seven additional charges of allegedly procuring for himself S$1.15mil, RM3mil, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000 in his capacity as the home minister.

During cross examination by the prosecution, UKSB former directors VK Lee and David Tan had stated that the funds given to Ahmad Zahid were contributions meant for political funding.

Raja Rozela said it was illogical for the company to have made monthly payments over four years and claim that they were political donations.

Given that it was done monthly for over four years, UKSB had paid him and not Umno, she said.

Raja Rozela also highlighted how UKSB directors had easy access to Ahmad Zahid’s private residence at Country Heights Kajang as well as his official residence in Putrajaya when delivering the cash, which was usually done after 10 o’clock at night.

She also reminded the court how one of the UKSB directors, Tan, had said in his testimony that he had personally delivered RM3mil cash in a trolley bag to Ahmad Zahid.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid’s lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik in his rebuttal of the prosecution’s submission said political donations were now recognised as a defence.

He cited former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s case whereby he was acquitted by the Court of Appeal for receiving a RM2mil donation from a businessman to pay for two by-elections in 2016.

He said UKSB directors Tan, Lee and Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani, who were prosecution witnesses, had also testified that the money given to Ahmad Zahid was meant for Umno.

Hisyam reiterated that Ahmad Zahid was a victim of selective prosecution as other notable and key figures who had allegedly also received funds from UKSB had not been hauled up.

Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, who is also on Ahmad Zahid’s defence team, said although it was stated that the money was from UKSB, the prosecution did not prove where the funds came from in all the charges.

“According to evidence in court, it was from Hong Kong and from dividends from an offshore company in Labuan,’’ he said.

He added that the money changers involved in receiving and redirecting the funds to the UKSB were also not called as witnesses by the prosecution.

Earlier in her submission, Raja Rozela said it did not matter where the money came from as the crux was that the funds were given to Ahmad Zahid by UKSB directors.

She also said that in Tengku Adnan’s case, the main witness had testified that he had given the money to Umno.

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