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Put Zahid on leave, Bersatu says after passport bid

Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu says returning the passport will only cause more delays in the deputy prime minister's graft trial.

Staff Writers
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Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu.
Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

Bersatu has called for Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to be placed on leave as deputy prime minister, following his application for the permanent return of his passport in order to perform his duties, including those involving overseas travel, without disruption.

Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu said this would ensure a fair and independent judiciary and a transparent trial for Zahid who is facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering related to funds from charity outfit Yayasan Akalbudi.

"His application which was supposedly based on national interests is clearly seen as applying pressure to the courts as well as the judges, and will disrupt the trial process," he said. 

"While it is the prerogative of the judges to return the passport in question, the scope of duty held by Zahid in the government administration will have an effect on the authority of the judges to ensure an efficient, smooth and timely trial."

Zahid's passport was surrendered to the court as an additional bail condition.

In an affidavit in support of the application, Zahid said the application was only meant to apply for permission for a passport so that he could carry out his official duties.
 
Zahid, who is also the rural and regional development minister, said he had faced some constraints in carrying out his duties as he did not have access to his passport.

"As the deputy prime minister, I have received the mandate and responsibility from the 10th prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, to represent him in several administrative matters," he said, having filed the notice of application, along with the supporting affidavit, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, on Jan 20.

To enable smooth movement in his official capacity as the deputy prime minister, Zahid said he was required to be in and out of the country, and that this would necessitate him holding his own passport.

In addition, Zahid said he needed the passport as it was required for his application to obtain a diplomatic passport from the immigration department, for official business within and outside of the country.

"It is appropriate for the court to consider that the approval of the application will bring good and continuity to the administration of Malaysia, which is the responsibility of every citizen in this country," he said in the affidavit.

He also promised to continue giving his full cooperation in the trial, saying he would comply with all of the conditions set out by the court.

Azumu said the return of Zahid's passport would only cause more delays in the name of duties and responsibilities.

"The fact is, the government has a deputy prime minister who is still facing 47 charges in court, which should be seen as damaging to the overall composition of Cabinet members.

"This is an insult to the majority of voters at the 15th general election, who had hoped for a clean government with integrity." 

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