KUALA LUMPUR: United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed on Monday (Aug 29) that the corruption charges against Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians after the 14th general election were politically motivated.
He said this in the High Court during re-examination by his lawyer in the trial for 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and bribery involving more than RM52.2 million (US$11.6 million).
According to Malaysian media, Ahmad Zahid told the court that a complaint to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was quickly lodged against him after BN failed to obtain sufficient seats to form government after the 14th general election in May 2018.
He said that following the change of government when Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over, leaders from the BN coalition were charged while PH politicians were released from criminal cases.
“If this is not a politically motivated charge, I don't know what other terms can be used. Charges against the accused were withdrawn by the attorney-general at the time, while individuals from the losing party were dragged to court and charged,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
According to Malay Mail, Ahmad Zahid said 15 PH politicians had their case withdrawn, including Democratic Action Party’s former secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s current MPs Sivarasa K Rasiah and Hassan Karim as well as former MP Rafizi Ramli.
He said that the BN politicians who were charged, apart from himself, included former prime minister Najib Razak, UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan, UMNO treasurer Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and around 18 others.
There were also more than 81 UMNO division leaders who were charged in court for allegedly obtaining funds from an organisation under the administration of the former prime minister, Malay Mail quoted him as saying.
Ahmad Zahid said that based on these examples, there is a public perception which considers these charges as “political or selective prosecution".
According to the Bagan Datuk MP and former deputy prime minister, while he has trust in the court being just and that justice is a correct legal system, it should not be used to take revenge.
Ahmad Zahid is facing 12 charges of criminal breach of trust in relation to more than RM31 million of funds linked to the charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi, a charitable foundation he founded, 27 counts of money laundering and eight counts of bribery charges over RM21.25 million of alleged bribes.
In July, High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah dismissed Ahmad Zahid’s application to halt the proceedings of the trial, pending the outcome of his appeal to obtain witness statements recorded by the MACC.
The judge rejected the application on the grounds that the statements were made in the belief that they would remain confidential.