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Stop and think! How did Zahid amass his enormous fortune?

  • How did Zahid amass his enormous fortune?

By Mariam Mokhtar

If you want to know what a person who lacks maruah looks like, just observe the ongoing high profile trials of Umno-Baru politicians, like disgraced Najib Abdul Razak, and his former deputy, Zahid Hamidi.

The shocking excesses, the flaunting of wealth, the disregard for the law, the theft of taxpayers' money and the abuse of the system, show us that those in power had no respect, nor regard, for the ordinary citizen.

Conversely, it showed us that the checks and balances, to stop politicians from breaking the law, did not work.

Perhaps, the laws that were in place, were not enforced. Perhaps, the civil servants who should have sounded the alarm bells, were afraid of rocking the boat. Perhaps, they had been threatened, and refused to break their rice bowls. These questions must be answered, as a matter of urgency, by the Pakatan Harapan administration.

Zahid faces 47 criminal charges, 12 of which are for criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight counts of corruption and 27 counts of money laundering involving a charity called Yayasan Akalbudi, which had been set-up, ostensibly to help the poor.

Zahid had allegedly misappropriated RM31 million from Yayasan Akalbudi. More shockingly, not one sen had been handed over to the needy.

The prosecution said that Zahid had received a bribe of RM17 million and an additional RM4.25 million as gratification. He had also received proceeds from an unlawful activity of RM65 million.

How did Zahid manage to avoid scrutiny? If he was able to misappropriate these sums, what about other senior Umno-Baru/BN politicians, who have managed to avoid scrutiny? How much in total have they amassed?

For six years, Malaysians lived in fear, after Zahid became the home minister in 2013. Journalists were humiliated, threatened and some from the alternative newspapers, were banned from covering certain events. Shia Muslims were rounded-up and jailed. Opposition politicians were harassed. NGOs which criticised the heavy-handedness of the government, were intimidated. Individuals, like his daughter's former boy-friend, were assaulted.

Zahid's reign of terror continued when he was made the Deputy PM in 2015. Zahid and the former IGP, Khalid Abu Bakar, made Malaysians fear for their freedom and their safety.

Yesterday, on the sixth day of Zahid's trial, more incriminating evidence was unearthed. The Putrajaya Road Transport Department (RTD) assistant director, Zaharudin Zainuddin, gave written evidence that Zahid paid RM35,726.80 a year, for his vehicles' road tax, most of which had been registered under his name.

The amount is staggering and the list of vehicles, which include many luxury cars, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), powerful motorbikes, like Harley Davidsons, is just as shocking. Almost all the vehicles were registered with the number "38".

How was Zahid able to afford the vehicles on his civil servant's pay, which at the time was around RM20,000 a month?

Did he declare the true value of all of his assets? How much tax did he pay to the income tax department?

He may have gone to work in the ministerial car, but in his private life, did other people not wonder how he managed to own a fleet of luxury cars and motorbikes? Did the other politicians not alert the MACC to launch an investigation?

Where did he store all his vehicles? Is he the owner of a mansion or a few mansions, with the space to store these vehicles? Why did no-one talk? Were they afraid to expose him?

Didn't his colleagues, or his neighbours, wonder if the vehicles were the proceeds of a bribe, in exchange for services rendered?

When Najib's spouse, the disgraced Rosmah Mansor was seen sporting a variety of Hermes Birkin bags, and different luxury watches, eagle-eyed Malaysians, also took photographs of Zahid wearing luxury watches. They had often wondered how the DPM could afford these, on his civil servant's pay.

Yayasan Akalbudi did not help any poor Malaysian, but both Zahid and his wife, Hamidah Khamis, were able to go on spending sprees in Malaysia and overseas. Over a period of 26 months, they spent around RM1.48 million, on four AmBank credit cars, which had a combined spending limit of RM250,000.

Whilst Malaysians moan about the price of petrol, the cost of owning a car and driving on toll roads, Zahid could easily pay RM35,000 a year, just in road tax.

The Pakatan government may be out of favour for not being speedy with their reforms, but they could salvage a bit of their reputation, if they could pass a law, that ensures adequate checks and balances are in place to catch corrupt politicians.

The rakyat would also like to see that the companies which paid Zahid a 'sweetener', when he rewarded them government contracts, are punished and barred from future government tenders. Their directors should also face prosecution.

Few of us are happy with Pakatan's performance, but do not dismiss the coalition just yet.

If Pakatan had not won GE-14, we would not have found out the shocking extent of the vast fortune, which former members of the previous Umno-Baru Cabinet, had amassed.

Pakatan's work is not yet done. Among their MPs, Pakatan just needs to cull the deadwood, the corrupt, the pen pushers and the seat warmers; then, implement their reforms.

The courts need to put former corrupt Umno-Baru/BN politicians and cronies behind bars. An example must be set; that crime does not pay.

Sources:

1. New Straits Times: Zahid and wife spent close to RM1.3m in 2 years
2. Malay Mail: Luxe vehicles owned by Zahid, wife as told to court: Mercedes, BMW, Toyota Vellfire, Ducati, Harley-Davidson
3. The Star: RM31mil money trail to be presented in Zahid trial
4. Malay Mail: How RM1.4m ended up on Zahid, wife’s credit cards over two years
5. MalaysiaKini: Zahid paid RM35k road tax for fleet of vehicles, says witness
6. Malay Mail: Najib calls for Muslim unity, months after Shia witch hunt

(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)

 

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