Zahid to hold talks with PM on new Cabinet today, trial postponed

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 2, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 2, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Umno president and former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial will not proceed today as previously scheduled, as he will be involved in negotiations to form a new Cabinet under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh this morning requested the High Court to postpone the trial today.

“The defence would like to ask for a short postponement today, for the reason our client is needed somewhere else quite urgent. Client is involved in negotiations in forming the Cabinet, so with that, we ask for today to be postponed,” he told the court.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who had noted that the prosecution was ready for trial today with five witnesses ready to testify in court today, then asked if Zahid’s lawyers could be more specific in its adjournment application, such as what the negotiation was about and where Zahid was required to be.

Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik then explained that his client will be having discussions with Muhyiddin on the new Cabinet’s formation.

“My instructions, the accused person will be in touch with the prime minister as regards to the formation of Cabinet for today. So on this basis, we ask the court to grant adjournment of this morning’s proceedings,” Hisyam told the court, adding that Zahid’s “presence is required” for the discussions on the new Cabinet.

The prosecution’s Raja Rozela said she would leave the matter to the judge’s discretion, while also acknowledging the need for Zahid to be involved in such matters.

“I think it’s only fair that the accused person be allowed to get to help in the formation of Cabinet. It is for the sake of the country and we are all involved in some way or other,” she said.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah then allowed the trial to be deferred to tomorrow:

“After considering the reasons given, the application for adjournment of the trial for today is allowed.”

After the judge allowed today’s trial to be deferred, Zahid’s lawyers thanked the judge while Zahid himself stood up from the dock to bow as a gesture of thanks.

Hisyam confirmed to the court that they were only seeking for the trial to be postponed today, and that Zahid’s trial will go on tomorrow.

Zahid’s lawyers did not say in court when or where Zahid would be meeting Muhyiddin today for the talks on the new Cabinet.

Zahid's lawyers also did not present any documents on behalf of their client during the court proceedings to back the reason given for the request for the trial's postponement.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur previously fixed March 2 (today), 3, 6, 23 to 25, April 13 to 16, April 27 to 30, May 12 to 15, June 15 to 18, June 22 to June 25 as trial dates for Zahid’s case.

Zahid’s trial that is being heard before Sequerah involves 47 charges related to alleged bribery, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.

This trial involving 47 charges started on November 18, 2019 and had gone on for 18 days with 38 prosecution witnesses testifying against Zahid so far, and today was originally set to be the 19th day of trial.

The prosecution had previously said it will call 70 prosecution witnesses for this trial, with this list of witnesses including those who have already testified so far.

Other than this trial involving 47 charges at the Kuala Lumpur court complex, Zahid also has a separate criminal case in the High Court in Shah Alam involving 40 charges and 33 alternative charges over his alleged receiving of bribes related to a foreign visa system in his former position as home minister.

The separate case which Zahid is facing in the High Court in Shah Alam was previously reported to be scheduled to start trial in October this year, with the dates of October 12-15, 26-28, November 2-5, 16-19, 23-26 and November 30, as well as December 1-3 fixed as trial dates.

Zahid is the leader of Umno, which is now part of the federal government under the new Perikatan Nasional coalition that backed Muhyiddin for the prime minister post.

Muhyiddin, who is president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, took his oath of office as prime minister yesterday and clocked in today at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya on his first day as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister.

Muhyiddin was met with Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali upon his arrival for his first day of duty, with the two also scheduled for a meeting today.

Muhyiddin’s schedule today includes a visit to Muar, Johor before returning to the Prime Minister’s Office for scheduled appointments this afternoon with Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador and Defence Force chief General Tan Sri Affendi Buang.

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