KUALA LUMPUR (June 29): Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi agreed on Wednesday (June 29) to the prosecution's contention that all Malaysians are equal in the eyes of the law regardless of their social standing or wealth, but maintained that he is being selectively persecuted.
At the start of the cross-examination on the witness stand where Zahid is standing trial over 47 charges of corruption, money laundering and criminal breach of trust, lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran asked him about Malaysia’s laws to combat corruption and the Federal Constitution which states that all citizens are equal under the law.
Zahid countered that this does not apply to selective persecution, which he and his defence team claim he has been subject to.
Raja Rozela: The principal of the rule of law carries a meaning that no matter one’s position, whether poor or rich, having power or influence, they all are bound by the same laws.
Zahid: Correct, but [it doesn’t apply to] selective persecution.
Raja Rozela then repeated the question again and asked the former deputy prime minister to answer with a “yes or no” or “agree or disagree”. Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah then asked the witness to answer according to the instructions.
Zahid said: “I have to clarify. It is my right to clarify.”
Justice Sequerah then told Zahid that his lawyers will give him time to answer and clarify during re-examination.
Zahid then agreed to Raja Rozela's suggestion.
Using a hypothetical situation, Raja Rozela asked the accused if a politician and a gardener were charged under the same laws, could the politician then claim that he is being politically persecuted.
After Zahid’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik objected to the question, Justice Sequerah asked the lawyers to address the issue in their written and oral submissions at the end of the case.
Zahid then agreed to Raja Rozela’s suggestion that the case against him is “purely” because he is a politician, adding that this is the “reality” as many politicians were dragged to court because of "political persecution".
This prompted Raja Rozela to observe that throughout the trial, there had not been politically linked motives other than the fact that Zahid is a politician.
To this, Zahid said that he did not fault the charges, but disagreed that there are no politically linked motives.
“Money is not everything, but everything needs money,” he quipped when asked by Raja Rozela if money and politics cannot be separated.
The former home minister, 69, also agreed that corruption in Malaysia is "worrying" after Raja Rozela pointed out to him how rampant fraud and bribery had become in the country.
After lunch break, Hisyam informed Justice Sequerah that Zahid was unwell and sought an adjournment for the accused to seek treatment. Hisyam said the defence will produce the medical certificate on Thursday.
Justice Sequerah agreed to an adjournment but requested that the case continue at 9.30am on Thursday.