Saturday 13 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 22): Muar Member of Parliament (MP) Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman told the court on Wednesday (Feb 22) that he had never ordered former Bersatu’s youth wing Angkatan Bersatu Anak Muda (Armada)’s personnel to withdraw the RM1 million at the centre of his criminal trial.

Testifying as the defence’s first witness in his trial, Syed Saddiq said he had never instructed either former Armada assistant treasurer Rafiq Hakim Razali or its then assistant secretary Ahmad Redzuan Mohamed Shafi to make the withdrawal of that amount from Armada’s official account.

In fact, he said that Armada’s G5 leaders — consisting of Syed Saddiq, Rafiq, Redzuan, then Armada deputy chief Mohd Aizad Roslan and then Armada information chief Ulya Uqamah Husamuddin — had instructed Rafiq to discuss with the party’s executive committee (exco) to get the amount necessary for the purpose of Covid-19 assistance, Ramadan and Hari Raya programmes.

Syed Saddiq said that the G5 leaders held a joint discussion in early March 2020 for the need to withdraw the money for preparations to face the Covid-19 outbreak and also for Ramadan and Hari Raya, which were around the corner.

“The discussion was held just before the government’s announcement to impose the movement control order (MCO) to control the spread of Covid-19. In the discussion the sum of RM1 million was not discussed at all.

“The G5 leaders only discussed the urgency to provide assistance to the people affected by Covid-19, and the festive season which was fast approaching. The G5 leaders had instructed Rafiq to discuss with Armada’s Exco to get the amount necessary for the purpose of the assistance,” he said.

One of the four charges that Syed Saddiq faces in this trial is of abetting Rafiq in committing criminal breach of trust (CBT) over the RM1 million.

The charge is framed under Section 406 of the Penal Code and he faces a jail term of up to 10 years, whipping and a fine.

I never said that funds were part of my ‘hard work’

Syed Saddiq also added that he did not at any time hold separate discussions with Rafiq or Redzuan to make the withdrawals from Armada’s accounts.

“What happened was I was only informed that a certain amount of money was withdrawn for the programmes, as discussed in the meeting. However, [I was] not informed by Rafiq and/or Redzuan regarding the actual amount of money that was withdrawn. Rafiq also never contacted me to inquire and/or inform me about the withdrawal of the RM1 million,” he said.

Syed Saddiq also denied that he had ever said that the funds in the party’s youth wing account was part of his hard work — a claim which several prosecution witnesses had mentioned while on the stand.

“I firmly state that I have never at any time stated that money or funds accumulated in the [Armada account] is the result of my hard work (‘hasil titik peluh’) as long as I was Armada chief. I believe that money or funds that have been collected belongs to all Armada members for the use of Armada,” he said.

He also denied that he gained political mileage for the upcoming party wing polls as insinuated by some prosecution witnesses because the assistance given out was necessary, given the worrying situation due to the global pandemic.

Syed Saddiq said that the Armada polls had been postponed several times since 2018 and were eventually held in August 2020. If he, as Armada chief, was prevented from using the funds for the assistance merely due to the “election season”, then he would have been prevented from carrying out his responsibility as stated by Bersatu and Armada’s constitution.

Furthermore, he added that he did not contest in the August elections because he was fired from the party in May that year.

Syed Saddiq also said that he was one of the seven founding members of Bersatu.

He said that as long as he was Armada chief, there was also no need for a working paper to be prepared for Armada programmes.

“I truly state here that the presentation of working papers to the leadership of Armada or Bersatu, especially for ad hoc assistances such as Covid-19 programmes, Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri, was never needed by any (party) law or regulation, and I never had any reasonable cause to know, believe or suspect that it is a necessity,” he said. 

Syed Saddiq also denied that he had asked Rafiz to “clear” the monies that were with the latter, following Malaysia Anti Corruption Commission (MACC)’s investigations on him (Syed Saddiq).

‘Political vengeance’

Following MACC’s investigations on him, his friends were also threatened so that they could provide the statement as desired by the MACC, he said, adding they had also made police reports on this.

Syed Saddiq also read out parts of a recorded conversation that he claimed he had with an MACC officer in which Syed Saddiq claimed that the anti-graft body’s investigations were political in nature and were a form of “political vengeance”. Reading on, he said that he did not follow the government of the day that was helmed by then prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin because he was a principled politician.

The Muar MP read out parts of the transcript during additional questions by his counsel, Haijan Omar. However, the audio recording, from which the transcript was taken, was not played in court. 

During cross-examination, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin put it to Syed Saddiq that no one could verify the identity of the MACC officer in the recording.

Syed Saddiq replied that he could verify the officer's voice, and that another MACC officer who was present when the audio recording was taken could also verify the voices in it.

Wan Shaharuddin then said many portions of Syed Saddiq’s statement on Wednesday in relation to the RM1 million were an afterthought, which Syed Saddiq denied.

Syed Saddiq also faces one charge of misappropriation of party funds which is framed under Section 403 of the Penal Code. If found guilty, he faces a jail term of up to five years, whipping and a fine.

He also faces two charges of engaging in money laundering activities involving two transactions of RM50,000 each — money believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities — via his Maybank Islamic account and his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account in June 2018.

The two charges were 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.

High Court judge Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid ordered Syed Saddiq to enter his defence in late October last year, after finding that the prosecution had proven a prima facie case against him.  

The trial continues on Thursday (Feb 23).

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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