KUALA LUMPUR (June 21): The mother of former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers suggested she advise her son that it would be "easier to support the government of the day" so that her family would no longer be investigated.
Sharifah Mahani Syed Abdul Aziz told the court this on the first day of the Muar member of parliament's trial on charges that include criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving RM1 million belonging to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia's Youth wing, Armada.
"Maybe it was said in jest but I was slighted (tersentap) when an officer said it would have been better to advise my son to follow the existing government so that my husband and I would no longer be investigated. That, I can't forget," the retired teacher said during cross-examination by lead defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo.
Prior to that, she answered in the affirmative when Gobind asked if she was aware of the change in government from Pakatan Harapan to Perikatan Nasional (PN) in February 2020, and that PN's prime minister at the time, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had a slim majority.
The retired teacher said she was questioned mostly about family finances, her work and various other things.
She also said she felt pressured as the MACC officers questioned her about her income from giving tuition classes, as she was close to retiring then and her pension was on the line.
"The MACC officers were just doing their job, but I was scared because if we made a mistake I would not get my pension. At that time, I had already served [as a teacher for] 38 years," she said, adding no one specifically mentioned Muhyiddin's name.
She said the investigation extended to other members of the family and was extremely stressful, so much so that she had taken ill.
She also said that whenever Syed Saddiq did not adhere to "what is wanted", he would tell her to be careful as the family could be the subject of MACC investigation.
"I'm sorry your honour, but I consider my son to be a victim of politics. Because when he doesn't follow what is wanted... In 2020, when there was a vote or decision that involved him, if he did not agree, he would tell my husband and I to be careful and patient, as the MACC might call on us," she said during cross-examination.
As to whether these votes or decisions were made in the Dewan Rakyat or elsewhere, Sharifah, who is the prosecution's third witness, said her son "didn't tell me in detail".
Syed Saddiq is currently facing four charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), misappropriation of funds and money-laundering, which carry jail time, fines, and whipping if found guity.
Earlier, Syed Saddiq's father Syed Abdul Rahman Alsagoff, who is the prosecution's second witness, also testified of political pressure as his son's politics were not aligned with those in power.
“It was certain my son would be persecuted (dianiaya) as his politics were not in line with that of Tan Sri (Muhyiddin), and I know my son is stern and of high integrity. [So] I advised him to move forward and to maintain a strong stance,” Syed Rahman said during cross-examination by Gobind.
Gobind had also questioned him if he was aware of Muhyiddin's slim majority in 2020, prompting deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin to object to the line of questioning on the grounds of relevance.
"The relevancy is that Syed Saddiq was forced to support Muhyiddin. Otherwise he would be accused. When the family members were there (at MACC) they were also threatened. This is part of our defence," Gobind told the court.
Earlier in the proceedings, the prosecution's first witness MACC investigating officer Muhamad Taufik Awaludin testified on the RM250,000 stolen from Syed Saddiq's safe in his house in March 2020.
Gobind objected to the relevancy of the witness' testimony as it did not concern the monies involved in the charges against Syed Saddiq. He also pointed out that Syed Saddiq was clear that the sum — part of which were from his parents — was for home renovation works.
Muhamad Taufik had also verified forensic analysis of WhatsApp conversations from the seized handphone of then Armada assistant treasurer Rafiq Hakim Razali. Throughout his testimony, he maintained that there was a link to the RM250,000 and the monies in the charges.
This is because, based on WhatsApp conversation on the stolen money, there were discussions that the source was from the parliamentarian's discretionary funds.
"In the forensic report, there were also conversations where the source of that sum was from discretionary funds which (Syed Saddiq) applied for earlier," he testified.
Syed Saddiq was also represented by Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Lim Wei Jiet.
Syed Saddiq is charged with abetting Armada's assistant treasurer at the time — Rafiq Hakim — with committing CBT of RM1 million in funds belonging to the wing. The offence purportedly took place at CIMB Bank Bhd, Menara CIMB KL Sentral on March 6, 2020. Under Section 406 of the Penal Code, if found guilty, Syed Saddiq could be jailed for up to 10 years, whipped and fined.
He is also charged under Section 403 with misusing RM120,000 in party contributions raised through a Maybank Islamic Bhd account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise at Maybank Islamic Bhd, Taman Pandan Jaya between April 8 and 21, 2018. For this, he could be jailed up to five years, whipped and fined, if found guilty.
In addition, he also faces two counts of engaging in money laundering activities, namely dealing in two transactions of RM50,000, believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities, via his Maybank Islamic account and his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account, at a bank in Jalan Persisiran Perling, Taman Perling, Johor Bahru on June 16 and 19, 2018.
The latter two charges are framed under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which are punishable under Section 4(1) of the same act with a maximum jail term of 15 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount involved.
The trial before Justice Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid continues on Wednesday.