SHAH ALAM: Civil servants have no business seeking and accepting funds, including political donations.
In fact, it was an offense to do so under Article 165 of the Penal Code, the prosecution said in its final submissions in the corruption trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Shah Alam High Court on Tuesday (September 6).
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Deputy Attorney General Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who heads the prosecution team, said Ahmad Zahid should be considered a public official, which falls first within the scope of Article 65 of the Penal Code, as opposed to a politician holding a ministerial post.
“His salary is paid for by the government with taxpayers’ money and he is paid to serve the public and not for the public to serve him by delivering money every month,” she said.
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She added that he had no reason to seek funds under the pretext that they were intended for his political activities.
Raja Rozela also told Judge Yazid Mustafa that the law does not recognize political donations and therefore politicians receiving money and calling it political donations are flouting the law.
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She pointed to the allegation that Ahmad Zahid, who was also Home Secretary, received monthly payments from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) for four years.
Ahmad Zahid, 69, has been charged with 33 counts of taking bribes from the UKSB during his tenure as Home Secretary in order to extend the company’s contract to continue working operate China one-stop center and foreign visa (VLN) system.
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The alleged bribery was also aimed at ensuring the maintenance of the contractual agreement for the supply of the integrated VLN system by the company.
He was also charged with seven additional counts of allegedly procuring S$1.15m, RM3m, 15,000 Swiss Francs and US$15,000 in his capacity as Home Minister of the time.
During cross-examination by the prosecution, former UKSB directors VK Lee and David Tan had testified that the funds given to Ahmad Zahid were contributions for political finance.
Raja Rozela said it was illogical that the company made monthly payments over four years and claimed they were political donations.
“A political donation shouldn’t be like regularly putting money in a piggy bank,” said Raja Rozela, adding that it should be a one-time payment if it was indeed a donation.
Since it was done monthly for over four years, it was the UKSB that paid for it and not Umno, she said.
Raja Rozela pointed out that civil servants cannot accept political donations.
She also pointed out how UKSB directors had easy access to Ahmad Zahid’s private residence in Country Heights Kajang, as well as his official residence in Putrajaya when delivering the money, which was usually done. after 10 p.m.
She also reminded the court how one of the UKSB directors, David Tan, testified that he personally delivered RM3 million in cash in a wheeled bag to Ahmad Zahid.
Ahmad Zahid’s lead lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, in his rebuttal to the prosecution’s case, said political donations were now recognized as a defence.
He cited the case of former Federal Lands Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor where he was acquitted by the Court of Appeal for receiving a donation of RM2mil from a businessman to pay for two by-elections in 2016.
He said UKSB directors David Tan, VK Lee and Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani, who were prosecution witnesses, also testified that the funds given to Ahmad Zahid were intended for Umno.
Hisyam reiterated that Ahmad Zahid had been the victim of selective prosecution as other notable and key figures who allegedly received UKSB funds had not been arrested.
Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, who is also part of Ahmad Zahid’s defense team, said that although the money was said to have come from the UKSB, in all charges against the former deputy Minister, the prosecution did not prove where the funds came from.
“According to the evidence in court, it came from Hong Kong and 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 his memoir, Raja Rozela said it didn’t matter where the money came from, as the bottom line was that the funds were given to Ahmad Zahid by the UKSB trustees.
She also said that in Tengku Adnan’s case, the main witness said he gave the money to Umno.