Ex-Malaysia minister Syed Saddiq resigns as Muda leader after graft verdict but vows to clear name
KUALA LUMPUR – Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was on Thursday sentenced to seven years’ jail and two strokes of the cane, and fined RM10 million (S$2.9 million) after he was found guilty on all charges of abetting in criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of funds and money laundering.
The 30-year-old lawmaker from a youth-centric party is the first politician to face a whipping sentence for corruption, confirmed Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, adding that the punishment applies to male offenders under 50 years old.
Following the verdict, the former youth and sports minister said he would step down as president of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), but remain as an MP while appealing his case.
Muda in September pulled support from Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan coalition after the prosecution dropped corruption charges against Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi.
At a press conference after meeting the party leadership, Syed Saddiq said: “Muda is bigger than me, Syed Saddiq; the institution of presidency is such an important role where the threshold is very high.
“While I appeal (against the conviction), I don’t deserve that role and I need to clear my name in the court of law,” he said.
“I owe the duty not only to the public but also to the party members and leaders,” he said, adding: “It is important to send a clear message that Malaysians deserve better in politics, and while it may hurt me, I must walk the talk in defending this principle.”
Deputy president Amira Aisya will serve as acting party president, Syed Saddiq added.
Speaker of Parliament Johari Abdul confirmed that the high-profile MP is not required to vacate his seat until he has exhausted all legal means to clear his name.
Syed Saddiq earlier told reporters outside the court that he respected the court’s ruling, but will file an appeal at the Court of Appeal. He added that he is ready to face criticisms from the public following the verdict.
“To be the kind of leader who can do the best for the country, one must be whiter than white to realise the Malaysian dream. I will accept any criticism because I am no different from any other person in this country.”
Syed Saddiq embraced his parents after speaking to the press. His mother was in tears.
On Thursday morning, the High Court handed out the sentence after the defence failed to cast reasonable doubt against the prosecution’s case. The court allowed Syed Saddiq’s application to stay the execution of his sentence pending an appeal.
On March 14, the defence closed its case after calling Syed Saddiq and three other witnesses, namely Armada information chief Ulya Aqamah Husamudin, as well as Mr Mohamed Amshar Aziz and Ms Siti Nurul Hidayah, who were Syed Saddiq’s former special officer and former private secretary, respectively.
Armada is the youth wing of Syed Saddiq’s former party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), which was co-founded by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Syed Saddiq was charged with abetting Bersatu assistant treasurer Rafiq Hakim Razali, who was entrusted with RM1 million of Armada’s funds, to commit criminal breach of trust by misappropriating the money. The offence was allegedly committed at the KL Sentral CIMB Bank branch on March 6, 2020, when the Perikatan Nasional government comprising Bersatu was in power.
On the second charge, Syed Saddiq was accused of misappropriating RM120,000 from Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise’s Maybank Islamic account by making Rafiq dispose of the money. He allegedly committed the offence between April 8 and 21 in 2018.
He also faced two counts of money laundering, via transactions of RM50,000 each, believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities, from his Maybank Islamic account into his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account in a bank in Johor Bahru, on June 16 and 19 in 2018.
Cue. (n.d.-f). Ex-Malaysia minister Syed Saddiq resigns as Muda leader after graft verdict but vows to clear name. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/ex-malaysia-minister-syed-saddiq-resigns-as-muda-leader-after-graft-verdict-but-vows-to-clear-name