KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Former minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who claimed trial to corruption charges earlier today, wants his case to become the catalyst for institutional reform.
Top of the changes he hopes to see is the enactment of a law regulating political funds.
“I want to make sure that my case will be the watershed for institutional reform to take place,” the Muar MP said in a broadcast that was also streamed live on both Facebook and Instagram tonight.
The 28-year-old said he has been advocating a Political Fund Act and that it was supposed to be tabled in the Parliament in March last year, before the Perikatan Nasional (PN) took over.
He said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council had appointed him to meet with officials from both the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) and the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to draft out the proposed Bill.
Syed Saddiq then addressed his two criminal breach of trust charges and maintained his innocence. He said that as an elected representative, he has to answer the allegations, which he claimed was an online smear tactic by his political adversaries.
The first-term lawmaker had claimed trial to a criminal breach of trust involving RM1 million belonging to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) when he was its Youth wing chief at that time, without the prior approval of the party’s central leadership committee.
He was also charged with misappropriating RM120,000 from the party’s election coffers in 2018.
One the first charge, Syed Saddiq said that the RM1 million was actually the wing’s and meant to help with Covid-19 relief measures at parliamentary constituencies. He also claimed that none of the party leaders had ever presented their expenses to be checked by its central leadership council (MPT) before.
“I want to share that I am one of the founders of Bersatu. From the establishment of Bersatu until the date I was fired from the party, not even the Bersatu president tabled the party’s expenses fund. Funds for the general election which accounted for millions of ringgit were never brought to MPT.
“If we want to get out of the Armada’s fund, it’s not me who put down the signature. The signatories are the treasurer of Armada and Armada’s secretary because they know these funds are for charity,” he said, adding that all the donations for charity had been fully accounted for.
Armada is the name by which Bersatu Youth members call their wing.
Syed Saddiq claimed that former Bersatu chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and several other members of the MPT were willing to testify on his behalf in court.
On the second charge, Syed Saddiq claimed that Bersatu was deregistered when he allegedly held a fundraiser for Bersatu Youth on April 8 and 9, 2018.
The former youth and sports minister who has since found another political party, Malaysia United Democracy Alliance (Muda), said that Bersatu was temporarily deregistered on April 3 three years ago for failing to submit documents and details on its annual general meeting the year before as requested by the Registrar of Societies.
“So logically and legally speaking, how can that be fundraising for a party?” he said.
He showed a poster of the event as well as its accompanying post, saying that it was held in his personal capacity as he did not have enough money for political work.
Syed Saddiq claimed that Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is the incumbent prime minister, and Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali before he joined the party, both attended the fundraiser and also contributed directly to him to help him run the campaign.
“If this was fundraising for the party, why was YAB PM, at that time the president of Bersatu, present? The invitation was extended in my personal capacity, not in the capacity as Armada chief. And then he continues to contribute directly to me.
“If this [fundraiser] is the purpose of the party, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will surely contribute to the party or division,” he said.
He added that he had also declared his campaign expenses, which were more than the amount raised in that drive.
Syed Saddiq said he is now raising funds for his legal case and told interested contributors that they can find the details on his website.
Syed Saddiq was released after posting partial bail amounting to RM80,000. The remaining RM250,000 will have to be paid to the court by next Tuesday.
Sessions Court Judge Azura Alwi also ordered Syed Saddiq to surrender his passport to the court until the case is completed and to report to the MACC branch in Kuala Lumpur once a month.
The judge, however, did not issue a gag order against Syed Saddiq but instead agreed with his defence lawyer that statements that may appear subjudice or in contempt of court will be handled on a case-by-case, and not through a blanket ban.