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Malaysia former youth minister Syed Saddiq ordered to enter defence in graft trial

The MUDA supreme council is expected to meet soon to decide whether Syed Saddiq should stand in GE15.

Malaysia former youth minister Syed Saddiq ordered to enter defence in graft trial
Former Malaysian youth and sports minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. (Photo: Facebook/syedsaddiqofficial)

KUALA LUMPUR: Former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was ordered by the High Court to enter his defence on four charges of misappropriation of assets, money laundering and abetting in criminal breach of trust (CBT). 

Judicial commissioner Azhar Abdul Hamid ruled on Friday (Oct 28) that the prosecution had succeeded in proving a prima facie case against the incumbent Muar member of parliament, Malaysian media reported. 

Syed Saddiq, now the president of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) was charged in his capacity as former chief of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (Bersatu) youth wing, Armada.

The offences were allegedly committed from prior to his stint as a minister in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government starting July 2018. They continued even after he left office in February 2020.  

One of the charges alleged that Syed Saddiq misused RM120,000 (US$25,000) of donations for the 14th General Election campaign. The money was raised via a bank account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise.

The offence took place between Apr 8 and Apr 21, 2018.

He also faces two counts of money-laundering, by engaging in two transactions of RM50,000 each believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities. The funds were moved from his Maybank Islamic bank account into his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account on Jun 16, 2018 and Jun 19, 2018.

The fourth charge stated that Syed Saddiq abetted Bersatu’s former assistant treasurer, Rafiq Hakim to commit CBT of RM1 million belonging to Armada in Mar 2020.

If found guilty on the charges of misappropriation of assets and CBT, Syed Saddiq can face a jail sentence of between five to up to 10 years and a fine.

As for money laundering, if found guilty, he can be jailed for up to 15 years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the proceeds of the unlawful activity.

The prosecution closed its case on Sep 27 after calling 30 witnesses in the trial which began in May last year, including his two parents: Shariffah Mahani Syed Abdul Aziz and Syed Abdul Rahman Abdullah Asagoff.

The court has fixed between Feb to Apr next year for the defence to conduct its case.

According to Syed Saddiq’s lawyer Gobind Singh, the politician will testify from the witness box during the defence stage of the trial. 

Speaking to the media after the court’s ruling, Syed Saddiq, 29, said that he is looking forward to clearing his name from all the charges he was accused of.

“I will tell my side of the story so that justice can win,” he was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

The incumbent Muar lawmaker also hinted that he could be defending his parliamentary seat, but will leave it to the voters to decide on his fate in the 15th General Election (GE15) on Nov 19, according to the FMT report. 

The Malaysian Insight reported on Friday that MUDA’s supreme council is expected to meet soon to decide whether Syed Saddiq should stand in GE15.

Syed Saddiq contested in the 2018 general election as a candidate under Bersatu. He became the youngest federal minister when he was appointed youth and sports minister.

Following Bersatu's exit from PH, Syed Saddiq was sacked by the party in May 2020 along with former Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir Mahathir and several other MPs. He later co-founded Malaysia’s first youth-based party MUDA in Jun 2020. 

Bersatu went on to join forces with other political parties including United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to form the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government under former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

With the resignation of Mr Muhyiddin in Aug 2021, Bersatu subsequently joined the government of prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob until parliament was dissolved on Oct 10.

For the upcoming GE15, MUDA has previously indicated that it would like to join PH as one of its component parties.

However, PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim said last week that the coalition was only considering an electoral pact with MUDA instead of admitting it as a component party.

Source: CNA/ih(aw)

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