KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — Former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today told the High Court that the RM2 million in three cheques — which he received in 2017 and 2018 from a businessman — were not bribes to secure projects for the latter’s company from the Home Ministry.

Ahmad Zahid instead said he had never asked for any money from businessman Azlan Shah Jeffril or anyone from the latter’s company Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd.

Ahmad Zahid claimed that the cheques totalling RM2 million were handed to him for “charity” and as a political donation to him as the then deputy prime minister as elections were near.

Testifying in his own defence at his corruption trial, Ahmad Zahid said he did not recall when the three cheques were passed to him, but noted Azlan Shah had previously told the court that these cheques were handed over on three separate occasions.


Azlan Shah had previously said he left the first cheque of RM300,000 in an envelope on Ahmad Zahid’s table as instructed by the latter during their meeting at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya on August 2, 2017, and that he had handed the second cheque for the sum of RM1 million in an envelope to Ahmad Zahid as the latter walked to his car after an event at the Home Ministry on January 4, 2018.

For the third cheque of RM700,000, Azlan Shah had said he had given it in an envelope to Ahmad Zahid at the deputy prime minister’s official residence at Seri Satria, Putrajaya.

Today, Ahmad Zahid said: "I stress that these funds were not given corruptly and Azlan Shah had also confirmed this when he testified in court.


“I also wish to stress that I did not receive these funds corruptly as these funds were for the purposes of charity and political donation as stated by Azlan Shah in court,” he added.

Ahmad Zahid referred to three cheque butts or the portion of the cheque book left after the cheques are issued, noting that “charity” was written as the purpose for both the RM300,000 and RM700,000 cheques while “political fund to TPM” was written as the purpose for the RM1 million cheque. TPM is the Malay acronym for deputy prime minister.

Ahmad Zahid said he had never instructed Azlan Shah or the latter’s employee to write those words on the cheque butts.

Ahmad Zahid also denied that the RM2 million cheques were given to him as a reward, claiming that he was not the one who had approved the appointment of Profound Radiance for the Home Ministry’s project for a one-stop centre for visa processing in Nepal and Pakistan.

Ahmad Zahid cites then PM Najib, says all procedures followed for project award

Instead, Ahmad Zahid highlighted then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s role in the matter, noting that Profound Radiance had first written to Najib to appeal against the cancellation of the company’s appointment to operate the one-stop centre for processing of visas in Bangladesh.

Ahmad Zahid said Najib had then minuted or written by hand on Profound Radiance’s letter “YAB Datuk Seri Dr Zahid, agree to be given chance if no wrongdoing (kesalahan) was done”, telling the court that he had interpreted this minute to be a “directive instruction” from the prime minister as there was the word “bersetuju” or agreed used by Najib.

Asked about the hierarchy in government then between the prime minister and himself, Ahmad Zahid said: “PM is head of government, CEO of the country, and at that time, besides being the home minister, I was also the deputy prime minister, any instructions whether officially or verbally, usually any Cabinet members have to comply with that instruction whether directly or indirectly.”

“Based on the former prime minister’s minute, I had instructed the deputy secretary-general and immigration division secretary to discuss that appeal with me, as it is an instruction from a prime minister then to me,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid said he viewed Najib’s directive as asking for Profound Radiance to be given a chance if they had not committed any wrongdoing that would disqualify them from being awarded further projects by the Home Ministry.

Ahmad Zahid said he was satisfied that Profound Radiance did not commit any such wrongdoing that would disqualify them from the Home Ministry’s projects, saying his view was that Profound Radiance’s delayed operations of the one-stop visa processing centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh was not due to the company’s wrongdoing but was due to procedural problems with the High Commission of Malaysia in Bangladesh.

Ahmad Zahid said the proposal to have Profound Radiance carry out the projects for one stop centres for visa processing in Nepal and Pakistan were by the secretary-general and deputy secretary-general of policy and control in the Home Ministry and not a proposal on his own, stressing that this was a “collective decision” reached after he was satisfied with the two officials’ explanation.

He said the proposal for the Nepal and Pakistan projects to be given to Profound Radiance was mentioned in a minit ceraian or minute prepared by the ministry’s Immigration division secretary-general Datuk Shahril Ismail even though the company was appealing to keep the Bangladesh project, explaining that senior ministry officials had recommended this as a “compensation for the loss of opportunity” to Profound Radiance as another company had by then already been appointed to handle the OSC for visa processing in Bangladesh.

Asked if he had ever gave orders verbally or in writing for Profound Radiance to receive projects in other places as replacement for the Bangladesh project, Ahmad Zahid claimed to have not interfered in administrative matters and that he was told by senior ministry officials that it would be best to give Profound Radiance the chance to set up OSCs for visa processing in Pakistan and Nepal as those two countries had yet to have these OSCs.

Noting that the minutes prepared by Shahril recommending the Pakistan and Nepal projects to Profound Radiance had received the support of both the ministry’s deputy secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad and secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim, Ahmad Zahid said he had then also supported the recommendations and claimed he would not have given his support if Suriani or Alwi had disagreed with the recommendations.

Subsequently, the Home Ministry appointed Profound Radiance to operate two one-stop centres for visa processing in Nepal and Pakistan starting from July 1, 2016, with Ahmad Zahid today claiming that the process to award these projects to the company had complied with all procedures.

“Next, I state that Datuk Seri Najib, the former prime minister, had ordered the appointment of Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd for the one stop centre in Pakistan and Nepal to be approved,” he claimed.

Ahmad Zahid later said the Home Ministry had as a “normal protocol” followed instructions from a prime minister and had asked for comments from the ministry’s secretary-general and deputy secretary-general.

In this trial, Ahmad Zahid — who is also Umno president ‚ is standing trial on 47 charges, namely 12 counts for criminal breach of trust in relation to more than RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges over RM21.25 million of alleged bribes.

Ahmad Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes on June 27.