KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman will head to the High Court here tomorrow to stand trial for the misappropriation of funds and criminal breach of trust (CBT) of more than RM1 million.
At 29, the Muar MP is the latest elected lawmaker to join a coterie of politicians facing an array of corruption allegations following the tumultuous political events of February 2020.
How did the man who was the country’s youngest minister just four years ago tumble from being a beacon of hope for young Malaysians to the dock, where he faces four charges?
Here’s a brief look at how Syed Saddiq’s brush with the law start:
In March 2020, Syed Saddiq lodged a police report on the theft of RM250,000 from a safe in his house although there were no signs of forced entry. It prompted an investigation from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Fast forward to May 2021, the Johor federal legislator was called by the police for questioning over his remarks made in a 45-second video uploaded a month earlier on April 28, in which he demanded justice for A. Ganapathy, a milk trader who died in February the same year while in police custody.
After two hours of questioning, police confiscated Syed Saddiq’s mobile phone.
Two months later on July 22, Syed Saddiq was hit with his first corruption charge.
At that time still the Bersatu youth chief, Syed Saddiq was accused of abetting the party’s assistant treasurer Rafiq Hakim Razali in committing CBT of the wing’s funds amounting to RM1 million.
Syed Saddiq allegedly withdrew RM1 million via a CIMB Bank Bhd cheque without obtaining prior permission from the Bersatu supreme leadership council.
He was later slapped with a second charge of misappropriating RM120,000 belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise in Maybank Islamic Berhad for his own use, which allegedly resulted in Rafiq disposing of the money.
The RM120,000 were apparently political contributions for the GE14 campaign raised through a Maybank Islamic Berhad account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise at Maybank Islamic Berhad, Jalan Pandan 3/6A, Taman Pandan Jaya between April 8 and 21, 2018.
For these charges under Section 403 of the Penal Code, Syed Saddiq faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a fine if found guilty.
On August 5, 2021, Syed Saddiq was hit with two charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).
He was accused of engaging in money laundering activities, namely two transactions of RM50,000 each from his Maybank Islamic Berhad account into his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account, which is believed to be proceeds from illegal activities.
However, these subsequent two charges were later amended on March 24 this year. As such, Syed Saddiq only faces two charges now.
Syed Saddiq has insisted that the charges are politically motivated as he is innocent and that he did not breach any party procedure.
He has since left Bersatu and found a new party, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance — which debuted in the Johor state election last March.
He has also claimed that the charges against him came when he was under pressure to support the Perikatan Nasional government led by Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin just before the tabling of Budget 2021.
Syed Saddiq is represented by lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, who is also the Puchong MP and from DAP.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin is in charge of the prosecution.
The High Court previously set 22 days for the trial that was supposed to start on June 7.
*Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Syed Saddiq's two charges in court. An earlier version reported four charges.