KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Former deputy prime minister and former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said that he is a "professional” and that his approach to officers who were found to have made mistakes was to guide them and promote them to work elsewhere instead of in his office or under his ministry.
Ahmad Zahid said this while testifying in his own defence in his ongoing trial for alleged criminal breach of trust involving the funds of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi (of which he is a trustee and its sole signatory), corruption and money-laundering.
Asked by his lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal why he had not taken action against his former executive secretary Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly when she had allegedly misused a stamp of his signature — meant for Hari Raya cards — on Yayasan Akalbudi cheques, Ahmad Zahid then explained his approach.
"I am a professional before I involved myself in politics. I treated my subordinate officers, officers who worked in agencies under me professionally.
"I have never demoted the ranks of any officers, instead I give advice, provide guidance, there are even those whom I promoted with certain methods so that the officer is no longer on duty in my office or in the ministry which I headed,” he told the High Court.
Asked why he did not then send Mazlina back to the Defence Ministry, Ahmad Zahid again stressed he would show guidance instead.
"Because although there were a few times Mazlina made mistakes and wrongdoing (kesilapan dan kesalahan) as I stated earlier, but as a professional, I continued to give advice and guidance ,” he said, explaining that he does not view officers in terms of liabilities and assets.
"I don’t consider officers with such weaknesses as liabilities, instead I show guidance where I advise for an office to become an asset to the department or agency or ministry which I lead. With that, I don’t zalimi or undermine any officer under my care,” he said.
Without mentioning the names of former officers who had worked under him, Ahmad Zahid then gave three examples of those who had done wrong but were transferred away and even promoted.
"There was a principal private secretary (setiausaha sulit kanan SUSK) to me, who was in the wrong and I returned that officer to the department where the officer was originally on duty. Usually SUSK is loaned to ministers or deputy ministers. This officer returned to the original department.
"The same goes for an SUSK who made a few mistakes, I had promoted this officer to be director-general of an agency in another ministry,” Ahmad Zahid said, adding that he continues to have a good relationship with this officer until now.
"Another officer of mine, SUSK, I promoted to be a district officer in Perak, from 48 to 54, and clearly this officer’s mistake while with me could be rectified when this officer became district officer in my state,” he said, adding that this officer later became promoted in other ministries.
Today, Ahmad Zahid sought to blame his former secretary Mazlina for the misuse of Yayasan Akalbudi funds for unrelated purposes, claiming that he had never authorised her to use the charity’s cheques for his credit card bills and insisting that it was her own negligence in doing so.
At one point, Ahmad Zahid said he would have terminated Mazlina’s service ― who was his executive secretary from December 2011 to May 2018 ― if he had known of her alleged negligence.
"I did not know at all that there were cheques using the signature stamp and pre-signed cheques had been used by Mazlina throughout 2013 to 2016. If at any time I knew it, I would have terminated Mazlina as she had misused Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques,” he said.
Among other things, Ahmad Zahid had also said that he had on December 31, 2020 lodged a police report regarding the use of the stamp of his signature on cheques, following what he claimed to be his suspicion being confirmed by the findings of the Department of Chemistry Malaysia’s — which was presented during this trial — on the cheque signatures.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― faces 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.