A former principal of Sekolah Menengah Imtiaz Ulul Albab in Melaka told the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not like his name being mentioned as a donor to the school.
Azharizan Yaacob, 47, who is now the principal of Maahad Tahfiz Al Quran Hamidiyah in Bagan Datuk, Perak, said the deputy prime minister told him that his actions were based on the principle of "the left hand should not know what the right is giving".
"Zahid’s purpose of funding the school’s operational costs was because he is a person who loves to give charity for religious purposes, especially to mosques and suraus, and for education," he said.
He said this when reading his witness statement at Zahid’s defence trial on 12 charges of breach of trust, eight charges of corruption and 27 charges of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit in Yayasan Akalbudi funds.
Azharizan said he was aware that the construction and operations of the private academic and religious school had been fully funded by Zahid himself.
"Throughout the school’s operations from 2012, Zahid allocated almost RM30 million to assist the school’s operations and this does not include contributions for the cost of construction.
"Almost every month, Zahid would issue cheques to Sekolah Menengah Imtiaz Ulul Albab with payments amounting from about RM170,000 to RM200,000," he said, adding that while the school began operations in 2012, the premises were only fully completed in 2014.
According to the 12th defence witness, the monthly contribution was used to pay bills, the salaries of teachers, and to cover food for students and other operating costs.
Azharizan said the operating costs were borne on their own, or through student fees. He also said that Zahid's contributions had helped the school to continue operating.
He said the original contractor for the construction of the school was another company before it was taken over by Teknik Sempurna Sdn Bhd until its full completion in 2014.
He said the management of the school was taken over by the state government in 2020 because Yayasan Akalbudi's account was frozen in relation to Zahid’s court charges.
"The monthly contributions by Zahid could not continue and caused the school, which had about 350 students, to lack funds to continue operations," he said.
To a question from lawyer Aiman Abdul Rahman, representing Zahid, Azharizan said after the Yayasan Akalbudi account was frozen, the parents and the school governing body chaired by Zahid agreed to raise school fees from RM500 to RM700.
"Because Yayasan Akalbudi’s account was frozen, we lost our financial source to support operations and came up with various ways, including raising annual fees, reducing teachers' salaries, shutting down the air conditioning and replacing it with fans," he said.
He said various methods were taken to allow the school to continue operating, including going into debt to cover the cost of RM350,000 per month while learning and boarding costs at the school were at RM1,500 per student.
Azharizan also said that Zahid had made various contributions to charitable works, including sponsoring students for A-Level courses at HELP University in preparation for their studies in the UK, sponsoring 12 teachers for their master’s degree at Universiti Putra Malaysia, and donating RM12 million for the construction of the Masjid Selat floating mosque in Melaka.
The trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Aug 24.