Malaysia’s for­mer deputy PM de­tained for al­leged graft

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus - OC­TO­BER 19, 2018

MALAYSIA’S anti-graft agency said Thurs­day it has de­tained for­mer Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi in a case linked to mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds in a wel­fare group.

Zahid, who now heads the op­po­si­tion Malay party, is the lat­est no­table per­son after for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak and his wife to face graft charges fol­low­ing the shock­ing ouster of their coali­tion in May gen­eral elec­tions.

The anti-graft agency said Zahid was de­tained at its of­fice shortly after he was sum­moned as part of its probe into abuse of power, crim­i­nal breach of trust and money laun­der­ing at a wel­fare group. It said in a state­ment that Zahid will be taken to court on Fri­day to face sev­eral charges un­der anti-cor­rup­tion and anti-money laun­der­ing laws.

The agency didn’t give fur­ther de­tails, but it has ques­tioned Zahid sev­eral times over al­le­ga­tions that funds in his fam­ily-run wel­fare group were used to pay credit card bills be­long­ing to him and his wife. He has re­port­edly said his of­fi­cer mis­tak­enly used the foun­da­tion’s money to set­tle the bills.

His daugh­ter, Nu­rul­hi­dayah Ah­mad Zahid, called for prayers for the fam­ily and said her fa­ther has been the “tar­get of cruel in­jus­tice” un­der the new gov­ern­ment.

Zahid took over from Na­jib as pres­i­dent of the United Malays Na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion, or UMNO, the linch­pin of the rul­ing coali­tion that was ousted in May 9 na­tional polls for the first time since in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1957. The coali­tion has since bro­ken up but UMNO still holds about a fifth of the par­lia­men­tary seats.

Na­jib and his wife, Ros­mah Man­sor, have been charged with mul­ti­ple counts of cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing linked to the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar loot­ing of the 1MDB state in­vest­ment fund that led to his coali­tion’s shock loss. The fund, set up by Na­jib, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated in the US and sev­eral other coun­tries. They have both de­nied any wrong­do­ing and Na­jib’s trial is to start next year.

Some UMNO lead­ers urged party mem­bers to rally be­hind Zahid. Se­nior UMNO of­fi­cial Jalalud­din Alias slammed the planned charges against him as a po­lit­i­cal ven­detta to hu­mil­i­ate the party and paint Zahid as an un­trust­wor­thy and un­qual­i­fied leader.

Photo: AP

Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi, pres­i­dent of the United Malays Na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion, ar­rives at the Malaysia Anti-cor­rup­tion Agency in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Thurs­day.

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