KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must publicly explain his letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) backing Paul Phua, who faces charges in Las Vegas for illegal gambling, Lim Kit Siang said today.
The DAP parliamentary leader said allegations surrounding the home minister’s letter said to back the suspected Malaysian gambling kingpin has gravely affected Zahid’s reputation as well as the integrity of the country’s police force.
“The Home Minister cannot stay silent any longer on this issue as Malaysians are entitled to a true and unvarnished version of these curious sets of events which bring no good whatsoever to Malaysia’s international standing and repute,” the federal opposition lawmaker said in a statement.
The Gelang Patah MP pointed out that it was strange and “curious” for a home minister to even write a letter to the FBI to vouch for the character of any person detained for allegedly being a gambling kingpin.
Prominent lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah, whose firm is assisting the defence counsel representing Phua, said Saturday that Zahid’s letter was not intended to vouch for the Taiwan-based former junket operator.
According to the prominent lawyer, the letter was a response to a request for information about Phua’s alleged involvement with the 14K triad, which the home ministry said was untrue because there was no such triad in Malaysia.
Responding to this, Lim said it was also puzzling for Zahid to personally write to the FBI to “correct a mistake” in the report by the Malaysian police on Phua.
“If there was such a “mistake”, why didn’t the Police themselves write to the FBI to correct the mistake,” he asked, and pointed out that local police have yet to confirm or agree to this version of events.
Lim also demanded to know what “national security matters” Phua had assisted the Malaysian government in the past and whether the police were privy to this information.
“The eighth curious aspect is the latest development in Nevada District Court in Las Vegas where the Home Minister’s letter to the FBI was withdrawn after Putrajaya objected to it being used for the defence of the alleged gambling kingpin.
“The Home Minister’s to the FBI dated December 18, 2014 was clearly in defence of Phua and yet the latest twist of the Las Vegas gambling trial is that the Home Minister’s letter should not be used in an open court proceeding in defence of Phua,” the DAP leader said.
Zahid’s letter backing Phua has been withdrawn from a US court after Putrajaya objected to it being made public.
News portal Malaysiakini reported earlier today Phua’s defence lawyers saying the Malaysian government was against them using the letter from Zahid to the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), dated December 18 2014, as evidence because the record has been “closed”.
“In light of the government’s objection, we respectfully withdraw our prior submission,” Malaysiakini quoted the letter from Phua’s lawyers to Nevada District Court magistrate Peggy A Leen as saying.
The letter from Phua’s legal team dated December 29 2014 was signed by the Malaysian man’s lawyer David Z Chesnoff and by lawyers for Phua’s son, Thomas C Goldstein and Richard Schonfeld, according to Malaysiakini.
The news portal said the lawyers’ letter did not specify if the objection against them using Zahid’s letter as evidence came from the Home Ministry or from other ministries.