Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today that three MPs from Umno had quit the party and joined Bersatu after the 14th general election (GE14) to save themselves from being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
He said the three MPs were among the Umno candidates who won their respective seats in GE14.
“The first to quit and join the other party was the Masjid Tanah MP who is now deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. I was made to understand that he was entrusted with the responsibility of managing the funds for the general election, but the funds were not used for Puteri Umno operations.
“Instead, the funds were transferred to another account for personal purposes… Umno and Puteri’s top leadership knew about this but when it was announced that an investigation would be carried out, the best way to save himself was to join Bersatu, which at that time was part of the Pakatan Harapan government.”
Zahid said this during the examination-in-chief by his lawyer Ahmad Zaidi Zainal in his defence trial for 47 charges: 12 of criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight of corruption, and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
Zahid said the second MP, who represents Jeli and is now a minister, was the Kelantan Umno liaison committee chairman entrusted with the responsibility of handling the party’s election machinery operations.
“Part of the funds was meant for logistics and to bring voters working or residing in the Klang Valley back to cast their votes in Kelantan. I was told that the RM30 million was never spent on logistics, and I have information that the money was given to his wife to be deposited into a personal account,” he said.
As Zahid was about to name the third MP, deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran objected, saying the Bagan Datuk MP should not link any individual to the case unless they were called to appear as witnesses.
“It is hearsay evidence and inadmissible unless they are called as witnesses,” she said.
However, lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, also representing Zahid, said the court was the right place for his client to tell the truth in order to defend himself.
“He is facing serious charges and must be given the latitude to expand on his defence,” he said.
Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah said he understood the issue of hearsay raised by the prosecution, but that whether or not it was allowed would be decided later.
“Right now, I agree to give them (the defence) a little space to defend themselves by providing the appropriate defence,” he said.
Zahid said the third person was the Bagan Serai MP who was given allocations for development in his constituency. Based on several documents seen by Zahid himself, he said, the allocations were found to have been “handled” by his own brother in the capacity of a special officer.
“There was a misappropriation (of funds) and for fear of being charged, he (the MP) decided to switch to Bersatu, I know,” the former deputy prime minister said.
The Bagan Datuk MP said he had evidence of everything he said as he was made Umno president after Najib Razak stepped down.
Earlier, Zahid said he began his political career by learning about politics and had never used shortcuts to be on the political scene.
“I started from the bottom and made it to the top by climbing the political ladder. I never used shortcuts. I learnt all the political procedures. So I understand the political ethics and cultures in the party that I lead,” he said.
The trial before Sequerah continues.