KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The prosecution today suggested Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s aide, Maj Gen (Rtd) Datuk Fadzlette Othman Merican Idris Merican, had exceeded her job scope as his press secretary then by asking to see his personal credit card bills.
This happened during lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran’s intense cross-examination of Zahid’s former press secretary Fadzlette.
Testifying as the second defence witness for Zahid in his trial over the alleged misappropriation of RM31 million of charity Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, Fadzlette insisted, however, that she was following Zahid’s instructions when she demanded to see the credit card bills.
Fadzlette was press secretary for Zahid when he was appointed home minister in 2013 and had continued serving him as press secretary when he became deputy prime minister from 2013 to May 2018, and is now media director for Zahid in his current capacity as Umno president.
She confirmed that her past work as a press secretary had nothing to do with Zahid’s personal finances, and said she does not know what instructions Zahid had given to former executive secretary Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly on the handling of his personal finances.
While saying Zahid had told her about Mazlina’s alleged mistakes in handling his personal finances, Fadzlette confirmed she did not have personal knowledge of this.
Earlier today, Fadzlette said Zahid had ordered her to monitor Mazlina’s work regarding financial matters, and claimed that she had asked Mazlina to show Zahid’s credit card bills and cheques prepared before brought to Zahid to be signed. Fadzlette said Mazlina had, however, made excuses and never shown such documents to her.
Fadzlette insisted later that Zahid had ordered her to check with Mazlina about the use of Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques and that Zahid had requested for his credit card statements.
Agreeing with Raja Rozela that Zahid’s credit card statements had nothing to do with her personally, Fadzlette also agreed that those credit card bills did not fall within her own duties.
Raja Rozela: Credit card statements are part of Major Mazlina’s duties to keep, to make credit card payments for Datuk Seri (Zahid), agree? Because that is her duty, not your duty.
Raja Rozela: So, for you to say you asked Major Mazlina to show the credit card statements and cheques, those are outside the scope of your duties as press secretary?
Fadzlette: It is on Datuk Seri Zahid’s orders.
Lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on September 21, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
As Raja Rozela repeated the question in her bid to get a direct answer, Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said Fadzlette had already answered the question.
The judge then noted that the question was on whether it was within Fadzlette’s scope of duty and that it would require a “yes” or “no” answer.
Raja Rozela repeated her question: “I asked, it is not in your jurisdiction to ask Major Mazlina to show the credit card statements to you, not within your scope as press secretary, do you agree or not, the question is simple.”
Hisyam interjected by saying Raja Rozela “must not intimidate the witness” and insisted it was intimidation based on the manner in which Raja Rozela had posed the question to Fadzlette.
Raja Rozela then said: “I’m sorry, My Lord, but this is my natural mode, I will try to speak more sweetly.”
Raja Rozela then continued to press Fadzlette to provide a straight answer to the same question, with an intense and curt series of questions.
Raja Rozela: I’m sorry if I speak roughly, I am like this, furthermore you have not answered my question yet. You had no right to ask Major Mazlina to show the credit card statements and cheques prepared by her because you are a press secretary, do you agree or not?
Fadzlette: I have the right as I am her senior officer.
As Raja Rozela repeatedly highlighted “as a press secretary, ma’am” to Fadzlette, Fadzlette tried to explain that she holds “two hats” where she was both the press secretary and also the “senior officer” in the military to Mazlina. In the army, Fadzlette was of higher rank than Mazlina.
Raja Rozela: As a press secretary, you do speeches, now my question is direct to your scope of powers, as press secretary, it is not included in your jurisdiction to ask for Zahid’s personal credit card statements from Major Mazlina, do you agree or not? That’s all.
Raja Rozela then said “hah, senang (easy)” in an apparent remark that it was a simple question.
Maj Gen (Rtd) Datuk Fadzlette Othman Merican Idris Merican exits the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on September 12, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow, with the prosecution expected to continue cross-examining Fadzlette.
In this trial, Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to over RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering and eight counts of bribery charges over the receiving of RM21.25 million in alleged bribes.
Zahid is a trustee and later became the sole signatory of cheques for Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation formed to eradicate poverty and help the poor.
Zahid and his lawyers have sought to pin the blame on his former executive secretary Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly over the use of Yayasan Akalbudi cheques for purposes such as paying the credit card bills.
The 12 counts of criminal breach of trust is in relation to the alleged misappropriation of Yayasan Akalbudi funds, including RM1.3 million via 43 cheques for his and his wife’s credit card bills, RM107,509.55 via three cheques for vehicle insurance and road tax for 20 privately-owned vehicles, a RM1.3 million cheque to the police’s football association, a RM10 million cheque for a loan to Armada Holdings Sdn Bhd, RM360,000 via two cheques to political consultancy firm TS Consultancy & Resources and over RM17.9 million of funds transferred from Yayasan Akalbudi to law firm Lewis & Co.