KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — Mohamad Shafiq Abdul Halim, who is said to be a researcher for Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s former information chief Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan, today claimed trial to a charge of obstructing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigations.

The 32-year-old was charged under Section 48 of the MACC Act, which makes it an offence for any person who fails to comply with any lawful demand, notice, order or requirement of an MACC officer in the execution of the MACC officer’s duties.

He was accused of having failed on March 3 to comply with an MACC officer’s order by failing to appear at the commission’s headquarters in Putrajaya to be investigated.

The MACC officer’s order was issued under Section 30(1)(a), where an MACC officer investigating an offence under the MACC Act may order any person to appear before him to be examined orally in relation to any matter which the officer believes may assist the investigation.

If convicted, the penalty for breaching Section 48(c) is a maximum RM10,000 fine or jail term of up to two years or both.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib noted that the offence is a bailable offence and proposed bail at RM10,000 with one surety, also proposing for the bail conditions to include the court keeping Shafiq’s passport to prevent any attempts to flee abroad and for him to report to the nearest MACC office at least once a month.

Akram also verbally applied for the court to impose a “gag order” on Shafiq to stop him from issuing any statement or comments which would be “sub judice” towards this case and the trial that would take place, stressing that this gag order sought would be limited to just the charge. Sub judice refers to matters which are being considered by a judge and cannot be publicly discussed.

Shafiq’s defence lawyer Chetan Jethwani said the defence feels that the RM10,000 bail amount offered was “high”, but said his client would not be arguing about the amount as they did not want to waste time on it.

Chetan also noted that the prosecution agreed for Shafiq’s passport to be delivered to the court by tomorrow as his wife “lives a little far away”, with Akram confirming this.

But Chetan objected to the prosecution’s bid for a gag order on Shafiq, and said the prosecution should make a written application for the gag order to specify what it wanted to stop Shafiq from talking about.

“I think we cannot agree to that, we have to object, firstly it is too vague to say I don’t want to have a comment about this case which will result in sub judice. Sub judice is usually determined by the court, not determined by individuals.

Chetan also hinted that his client may also launch legal action and may have to provide comments to defend himself in public.

“There is probably going to be related proceedings going to be brought against some of the officers of MACC, I think there is already a lot of media surrounding this thing, so the client has to be able to defend himself, his job is actually a research officer to another individual, part of his job is speaking to the media.

“When we have broad-based order in this nature, it’s very difficult to tell where the lines are drawn, and there are conditions attached to the bail. Perhaps a formal application could be made outlining the exact boundaries that they want and we can respond to it, I think that would be fair,” he suggested, without actually saying who Shafiq was working as a research officer for.

Sessions Court judge Suzana Hussain fixed bail at RM10,000 with one surety as agreed by both the prosecution and the defence, and scheduled April 7 to be the next mention for this case.

The judge also ordered for Shafiq to hand over his passport to the court by tomorrow and said the passport will be kept by the court until the trial ends, and also ordered him to report to the nearest MACC office once a month until the end of the trial.

The judge agreed that the prosecution should file a formal or written application for the gag order.

A 44-second video clip on TikTok that purportedly showed Shafiq had been making the rounds on social media since February 21.

In the video, he alleged that the MACC had offered to pay Wan Saiful a bribe of RM10 million amount if the latter were to provide a statement that he took bribes on the orders of Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The MACC on February 21 rejected the allegations in the video as being defamatory.

Earlier in the day on February 21, Wan Saiful was charged and had pleaded not guilty to two bribery charges, over his alleged soliciting of a bribe in April 2022 and alleged receiving of over RM6.9 million between July and September 2022 for helping Nepturis Sdn Bhd obtain a contract for a RM232 million road project.

In a February 21 Facebook post at night, Shafiq said he was commenting on “rumours” of the purported RM10 million offer in the video, and apologised to the MACC while also saying he had not intended to make accusations against anyone and insisting that the video clip was edited and spread by cybertroopers from a rival political coalition.