KUALA LUMPUR: Former Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has been slapped with two charges of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) involving RM1 million belonging to his former party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and RM120,000 to the party youth wing, Armada’s funds.
For the first charge, the 29-year-old Muar Member of Parliament(MP) was accused of committing the CBT by withdrawing a RM1 million cheque from the party accounts without the party leadership’s approval.
He was accused of committing the first offence under Section 405 of the Penal Code, at Menara CIMB, KL Sentral on March 6, 2020. The offence carries a maximum 10-years jail, fine and whipping.
For the second charge, he was accused of committing the offence between April 8 and April 21, 2018. Syed Saddiq pleaded not guilty and claim trial to both charges.
According to the prosecution led by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Faridz Gohim Abdullah from the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), the offence was non-bailable.
However, he noted that the court could use its discretionary powers to grant bail, adding that the court should fix RM500,000 with one surety if it wanted to allow bail.
Faridz Gohim also requested the court to order Syed Saddiq to report to the closest MACC office once a month.
Additionally, the DPP also sought a gag order to prevent Syed Saddiq from talking about the case outside, for which was objected by defence lawyers Gobind Singh Deo and Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, as reported by The New Straits Times.
Gobind objected to the requested amount of bail sought and denied the prosecution’s basis of argument that his client should not be bailed.
“I want to highlight here that the consent to charge him for the first offence was given on Jan 7, which is seven months ago.
“If it was so serious, why charge him only now, three days before Parliament is about to reconvene.
“As for the second offence, the consent to charge was given on August 4, 2020…it has been one whole year and he is only being charged now.”
According to Gobind, the MACC had recorded Syed Saddiq’s statement on April 1 and 2 last year and his client had been attending every single time the graft busters called him thereafter.
“He was asked to return to the MACC and he attended every single time…there has also been no report of him disturbing any witnesses or making an attempt to escape.
“My client is 29-years old and is not married. He has three siblings and is an active MP in his constituency. Where is he going to run to?” he said.
On the prosecution’s application for a RM500,000 bail, he said: “I have represented many similar cases and the bail is normally just about RM20,000 or RM30,000…so why ask so much for this, what about him attending Parliament.”
On the gag order, Gobind said the MACC had publicised the charges even before Syed Saddiq was charged but now was trying to silence him.
“You cannot charge somebody and then gag him. If there is anything subjudicious said, they can always seek the court’s redress after that.”
He added that there was no basis in law for such an application to be made.
Similarly, Ambiga objected to the gag order application, noting that it was against the freedom of speech as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
“What they are saying is that this court will be influenced by whatever is said outside this courtroom.
“That is an insult to the court. We have a robust democracy and the courts have never been influenced by what is said outside,” she said.
“The gag order must be refused,” she said.
On the contrary, Faridz Gohim said the prosecution had the discretion to charge someone anytime after the consent to charge was issued by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).
“There is no expiry date for this after the consent to charge is given,” he said.
Having listened to both counsels, Sessions Court Judge Azura Alwi set bail at RM330,000 with one surety.
She also ordered Syed Saddiq to report to the closest MACC office once a month and for his passport to be impounded until the case is over.
Gobind later requested for time to raise funds for the bail but Azura ordered RM80,000 must be posed by today while the balance by Tuesday.
The court also fixed Sept 10 for the next mention of the case.
Meeting reporters after the proceeding ended in the afternoon, Syed Saddiq stressed the need for MPs to not be fearful of attempts to sway their allegiance.
“A few MPs have been called upon and warned. Be brave when you’re truthful and (be ready to) just answer them in the Courts of Law.
“I advise all MPs, either from Umno or other parties, to stay true to your principles and integrity. Our pride is not for sale,” said Syed Saddiq.