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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad told the High Court here today that his former political special officer had implicated him over corruption charges totalling RM3 million, to escape from being charged himself.
Mohd Isa said Muhammad Zahid Md Arip had told him at the time that he was under duress after being harassed by a ‘ghost’ in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) lockup and was forced to act in the manner.
“I met him (Muhammad Zahid) when his uncle died in 2018, I greeted him and commented that he looked thin. He said while he was under remand, there were all sorts of things (that happened).
“He was detained at the old MACC building, and said that one of the cells was haunted. Due to fear and being under duress, he had to implicate me to set himself free,” he said during the examination-in-chief by his counsel Datuk Salehuddin Saidin on the first day of the defence trial against nine corruption charges.
Mohd Isa, who is also the former Mentri Besar of Negri Sembilan, said he had asked Muhammad Zahid to correct the statements which linked him to the charges, however, it never materialised.
I asked him (Muhammad Zahid) to correct it (the statement), he said he would do it but nothing happened until I met him at the MACC office, and I said again “Zahid, correct it before it goes to court because this is a matter concerning my dignity”. He said “Wait, I will do it” but nothing happened until I was brought to court,” he said.
Mohd Isa said he had asked Muhammad Zahid, who is also the 16th prosecution witness, to correct the statement as he was not involved in the corruption case.
Meanwhile, Mohd Isa said Muhammad Zahid had served as his special political officer from 2011 to 2016, and the appointment was made at the request of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
“I gave him (Muhammad Zahid) the post (of special political officer) even though I was not interested, because his track record is not good, he likes to jump (sides in politics).
“His temperament is like that, he has to get himself scot-free. That’s why in politics, he jumps around, wherever there is profit, he will go. That is his personality, his style,” said.
According to Mohd Isa, he fired Muhammad Zahid as his special political officer because the latter supported Pakatan Harapan.
Asked by Salehuddin on whether Muhammad Zahid had on nine occasions placed bribe money on the table of his (Mohd Isa) office at the 49th floor of the Felda building, Mohd Isa replied “That never happened, and it is impossible to happen”.
Mohd Isa said the room was locked using a special code which only the auxiliary policemen and his former secretary Zuraida Ariffin @ Shaari knew of.
“I also did not remember my room code, in the event I went to the office, Zuraida would first open it and get the room ready. During my absence, no one was allowed to enter my room, and other than the time (I was present), my office will remain closed.
“I was also not in the office all the time, as I had a lot of affairs to attend to outside. Zuraida would also be in the office if I went there, as she would be managing my requirements and schedule at the office,” he said.
Mohd Isa was charged with nine counts of corruption, namely receiving bribes for himself amounting to RM3,090,000 from Ikhwan Zaidel, 59, through Muhammad Zahid, as a token of gratitude to help approve the purchase of a hotel by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) for RM160 million.
All the offences were allegedly committed at the 49th Floor of Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC here between July 21, 2014, and Dec 11, 2015.
Each charge filed under Section 16 (a) (A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
The prosecution in the trial was handled by DPP Afzainizam Abdul Aziz before Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. — Bernama