KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today insisted in court that RM360,000 of charitable fund Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds which were given to a former Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman’s company in 2015 and 2016 was not to help Barisan Nasional (BN) get more Malaysians signed up as voters.
Ahmad Zahid, who was at that time the deputy prime minister, claimed that the money was instead given to the company to help in the printing of al-Quran, the holy book for Muslims.
Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar — who was formerly a special officer to the deputy prime minister and also former EC deputy chairman — was the one who had established the company under orders in 2015 by then deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Testifying in his own defence against 12 charges of criminal breach of trust involving over RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds including the RM360,000, Ahmad Zahid denied having committed wrongdoing over the RM360,000 sum given to TS Consultancy & Resources.
Ahmad Zahid disputed the previous testimonies given in court by TS Consultancy & Resources manager Jasni Majid and its owner Sabri Said where they had said the funds to the company was to help in voter registration works, claiming that the duo’s testimony was “not true at all”.
“I also state that at that time, there was no need for TS Consultancy & Resources to act as a company helping Barisan Nasional to register voters. This is because Barisan Nasional was allowed by the EC to register voters by itself without needing the help of anyone,” he told the High Court.
He said this company TS Consultancy had never been recognised by the EC as a registrar of voters.
Citing the two Yayasan Akalbudi cheques for the sum of RM100,000 on August 20, 2015 and for RM260,000 on November 25, 2016, Ahmad Zahid instead claimed today that it was to print copies of the al-Quran.
“I state that the payment of RM360,000 made by Yayasan Akalbudi to TS Consultancy is for the purpose of printing al-Quran. This matter was between me and Datuk Latiff Mirasa who is the chairman to Yayasan Restu which printed the al-Quran,” he said.
“I also state that this matter is not known at all by TS Consultancy & Resources. This is because it was Datuk Latiff Mirasa who asked me to make the al-Quran printing payment to be paid to TS Consultancy & Resources,” he later added.
According to Ahmad Zahid, Yayasan Restu had formed a committee to find funds to carry out the publishing of the al-Quran with printing to be done by others, with the al-Quran intended to then be endowed to mosques, surau, religious institutions and also to be sent overseas to countries where Muslims are a minority.
Ahmad Zahid said this committee was chaired by Latiff and that TS Consultancy’s Wan Ahmad was also on this committee.
Ahmad Zahid said he had extended Wan Ahmad’s services as special officer to deputy prime minister as Wan Ahmad had begged for the extension, following Muhyiddin’s sacking from the then Barisan Nasional (BN) Cabinet and from Umno.
Asked about Wan Ahmad’s previous testimony in court that he did not know Latiff, Ahmad Zahid claimed that the duo would have known each other as Wan Ahmad had been former EC deputy chairman while Latiff was formerly the deputy head of the National Civics Bureau (Biro Tatanegara) in the Prime Minister’s Department.
“I’m sure both of them not only knew each other but they had collaborations in duties between EC and Biro Tatanegara,” he said when suggesting that this was why they were both on the same committee for the printing of al-Quran.
Ahmad Zahid today confirmed in court today the al-Quran which he claimed to have been printed by Yayasan Restu using funds from Yayasan Akalbudi, confirming that it had mentioned both he and his wife’s names as being those who were carrying out wakaf or endowing this al-Quran on behalf of Yayasan Akalbudi.
Among other things, Ahmad Zahid also disagreed with Wan Ahmad’s previous court testimony that TS Consultancy was formed to help the BN party from the then ruling government in registering voters as the EC did not allow political parties to register voters.
Claiming that what Wan Ahmad had testified was incorrect, Ahmad Zahid also claimed that Wan Ahmad had agreed during cross-examination that the nature of TS Consultancy’s business was to carry out motivation courses to encourage those who had yet to register as voters to vote and not to sign up new voters.
Noting that TS Consultancy was registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia as being involved in services to organise training, courses and motivational programmes, Ahmad Zahid claimed this showed that the early records of the company’s formation was not for the purpose of registering new electoral voters.
Wan Ahmad had previously testified that the RM360,000 from the two cheques — including the RM100,000 Yayasan Akalbudi cheque which he saw Ahmad Zahid sign — was spent solely on the operating costs for the company in the course of its voter registration work, and that the company’s only work was to register eligible Malaysians as voters and to hold briefings on elections.
Wan Ahmad had also in court disagreed that the RM360,000 was used to print the al-Quran, and had said he had never heard of Yayasan Restu and did not know Latiff, confirming that Yayasan Restu and TS Consultancy have no links.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is also a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― is facing 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.
Yayasan Akalbudi was formed with the objective of receiving and administering funds for the eradication of poverty and to enhance the welfare of the poor, and Ahmad Zahid has been accused of misappropriating over RM31 million of its funds for unrelated purposes such as this RM360,000 sum to TS Consultancy as well as RM1.3 million for his and his wife’s credit card bills.
Ahmad Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.