KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today again insisted that he faced politically-motivated prosecution after the Barisan Nasional coalition lost in the 14th general election (GE14) in May 2018.
Zahid, who was testifying in his own defence in his corruption trial here, told the court that a complaint to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was quickly lodged against him after the then BN government failed to obtain sufficient seats to form government in GE14.
Following the change of government where the then opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over, Ahmad Zahid claimed that leaders from his BN coalition were charged while PH politicians were released from criminal cases.
"A few politicians who were formerly in the opposition and then when... PH took over, there were 15 people who were in court and facing charges, all 15 of them had their charges withdrawn, while we who lost, we were charged.
"I wish to state that among those who had their charges withdrawn include YB Sivarasa, YB Lim Guan Eng, YB Hassan Karim, Rafizi Ramli, and a few other persons — as I recall 15 people. While the party who lost, besides me, Datuk Seri Najib, Umno's secretary-general itself YB Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, Umno treasurer YB Tengku Adnan and around 18 more leaders from my party were also brought to court. And there were more than 81 division leaders that were also forced to be hauled to and charged in court who allegedly obtained funds from an organisation under the administration of the former prime minister," he said.
"Yang Arif, if this is not political prosecution, I don't know what other term can be used, because those who were charged had their charges withdrawn by the attorney-general then, while those from the defeated party were hauled to court to be charged," he added.
"So these examples, I consider, and the public perception also considers this to be political prosecution or selective prosecution," he claimed.
Ahmad Zahid then spoke of his trust in the court being just and that justice is a correct legal system, but then suggested that the legal system should not be used to take revenge.
He suggested that the priority should be on investigating matters that harm the justice system instead of being "vindictive" or taking revenge on leaders from a previous government that had been taken over.
Ahmad Zahid noted that the MACC report lodged against him was done following GE14 "after BN's defeat and when we became the opposition".
Ahmad Zahid also claimed that there was a trial carried out in the court of public opinion when referring to his 47 charges in this trial alone.
Ahmad Zahid claimed that the 47 charges were "selective prosecution" against him, noting that the charges were said to be based on investigation but had allegedly resulted in him having been judged by public opinion.
"But when it is brought to this honorable court, it is as if it had become material to say that the acts stated in the investigation paper is a criminal act which has a general perception of someone having been judged by a court of public opinion.
"So this is what has already happened and is happening and to the general perception, someone who had held positions previously and continued to hold positions in political parties or continue to be MP and continue to carry out duties in a party is considered to be someone that will threaten the position of the government at that time, then this person will be victimised," he said.
He said he was not threatened in relation to Yayasan Akalbudi where he is a trustee and its sole signatory for cheques, but that he was carrying out the duties of the Umno president when he was threatened by then prime minister Dr Mahathir after GE14.
"And at that time the threat was made, if I do not dissolve Umno or I do not leave Umno, something would be done against me, so of course the actions and investigations done followed after this threat was made.
"Although Tun Mahathir denied the threat made but he admitted in the lead story of several print media, he himself admitted having asked me to leave the party and for me to dissolve Umno. And this is clear that admission is solid evidence that Tun Mahathir had threatened me to dissolve Umno and for me to jump to his party at that time," he claimed.
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was initially the Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman, but had resigned from both posts on May 12, 2018 after the GE14 defeat. At that time, Ahmad Zahid who was Umno vice-president took on the duties of the party president.
On June 30, 2018, Ahmad Zahid won Umno's party polls to be party president following a three-corner fight against Khairy Jamaluddin and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, and has continued to hold this position until today.
Ahmad Zahid was first investigated in July 2018 by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for this case, and was first charged in October 2018 and later continued to be prosecuted.
In this case, Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 of them 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.