Saturday 13 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 22): Muar Member of Parliament Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman testified on Wednesday (Feb 22) that the RM120,000 at the heart of the misappropriation charge against him was his own money raised through two fundraising events.

Testifying as the defence’s first witness in the trial, Syed Saddiq said the RM120,000 was his personal money to replace his own monies spent on his campaign in Muar during the 14th general election (GE14) in 2018.

"Since both programmes of the fundraising ceremony are for my own campaign, all fundraising proceeds from it belong to me and do not belong to (Bersatu's youth wing) Armada or Bersatu.

"I sincerely believe therefore I have the right to determine the way the funds should be spent," the former Armada leader told the High Court.

Syed Saddiq, the founding president of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), said he had started his work in the Muar constituency two months before GE14 in May 2018 and had used his own funds for his programmes. His friends had also come together to help him and he referred to them as "Team Saddiq".

He added that he along with Team Saddiq had organised two fundraising events in April 2018. One event was held at the SKT Banquet Hall in Muar and the other at De Palma Hotel in Ampang.

"The purpose of both these events was to raise funds to cover expenses for my own election campaign as a Muar parliamentary candidate in GE14 without involving Bersatu or Armada," he said.

Syed Saddiq said he had used his own personal funds to organise both events, without any monetary help from Armada or Bersatu.

He added that after discussion he and his team decided to use Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise (ABBE)'s account.

"I suggested using my personal account [for the fundraising] but Team Saddiq has discussed and taken the position that it is better if a business bank account is used. There were also suggestions from Team Saddiq to create a new bank account with the name Saddiq Resources but it would take some time to complete," he said.

He told the court on Wednesday that he spent a total of RM171,675 for the election campaign, which he had declared to the Election Commission as required by the law.

One of the four charges Syed Saddiq faces in the criminal trial is misusing RM120,000 of party contributions belonging to ABBE in April 2018. ABBE is a company set up to generate income for Armada through merchandise sales. The sum was transferred to Syed Saddiq's personal Maybank account.

This charge is framed under Section 403 of the Penal Code which provides for a jail term of up to five years, whipping and a fine, upon conviction.

Official Armada fundraiser programmes would have Armada logo

He added that his posts on social media promoting the fundraising events also stated that it was to raise funds for his own political campaign.

"If the fundraising events were organised by Armada or Bersatu, both official social media accounts owned by [them] will post about the programmes," he said.

He also highlighted that there was a difference in the posters of the events organised by the party and for his personal political campaign. The fundraisers for his own political campaign did not contain any Armada name or logo.

Syed Saddiq said he knew of ABBE's Maybank account but has no access to this account.

He added that this was neither Armada nor Bersatu's official account and that former Armada assistant treasurer Rafiq Hakim Razali was the only one who had control over the account.

Rafiq, he said, had agreed to use ABBE's account to channel the money from the fundraising programmes and the money went into the account between March and May 2018. He had then asked Rafiq to transfer the money to his account.

"Rafiq was not involved in the organisation of the two fundraising events other than giving his consent for me and Team Saddiq to use ABBE's Maybank account for the purpose [mentioned]," he said.

Syed Saddiq said that while he was Armada chief, the youth wing had only organised three fundraising events, in 2017 and 2019.

He added that fundraising events held by Armada would clearly display the wing's logo or name on the posters and that money gained from the events would be channelled to Armada's official account.

Syed Saddiq, 30, said that he had been working since 2010, doing part-time jobs since his university days. He had also won prize money from debate competitions.

The Muda chief also faces one charge of abetting Rafiq in committing criminal breach of trust over the RM1 million. The charge is framed under Section 406 of the Penal Code which provides for a jail term of up to 10 years, whipping and a fine, if found guilty.

He also faces two charges of engaging in money laundering activities involving two transactions of RM50,000 each — 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.

Judge Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid had 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.

Edited ByS Kanagaraju
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