Trial: Ex-home ministry officer insists did not lie about Zahid’s ex-secretary’s character

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The Home Ministry’s former deputy secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad today denied keeping grudges against or lying about the character of Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly, the former executive secretary of former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Suriani was testifying as the fourth defence witness for Ahmad Zahid, who is facing 47 charges in the High Court in relation to the alleged misappropriation of charity Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds and alleged bribery and money laundering.

When lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran suggested that Suriani’s written witness statement regarding Mazlina was a “lie” as the witness statement was prepared by lawyers and not herself, Suriani disagreed.

In several paragraphs of the witness statement which had been disputed and objected to by the prosecution, Suriani had described an event happening some time in 2010 to 2014 when she was still a division secretary in the Defence Ministry, where she had attempted to meet Ahmad Zahid regarding several matters for the ministry.

Suriani claimed that Mazlina did not give any response when she informed her intention to meet Ahmad Zahid, and that she had waited for about 25 minutes outside the meeting room but was not called in or allowed in by Mazlina until Ahmad Zahid left. Suriani had also claimed that Mazlina had allowed others in to meet Ahmad Zahid.

Raja Rozela then suggested it was just this one incident that caused Suriani to keep a grudge or keep her anger towards Mazlina, but Suriani disagreed.

Raja Rozela also suggested that other incidents like those at airports that Suriani had made regarding Mazlina were events that were “diada-adakan” (made up), but Suriani disagreed.

Suriani confirmed she did not remember the exact date when the incident happened or the exact ministry event that she was referring to as there were many such events, but insisted this did happen and disagreed that this was the only incident where she was unable to meet Ahmad Zahid.

While agreeing that she had ever met with Ahmad Zahid while she was still in the defence ministry and that there was no obstacle for her to meet with Ahmad Zahid through his other secretaries, Suriani also disagreed that her ranking of Jusa C when she was in the ministry enabled her to meet directly with Zahid.

Raja Rozela: As a high-ranking officer, you agree you have no problem, no obstacles to meeting directly with the minister, do you agree with me?

Suriani: Disagree, because I have to respect hierarchy.

Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — 
 Picture by Firdaus Latif
Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

When re-examined by Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer Aiman Abdul Rahman, Suriani again explained the difficulties she had sometimes ran into difficulties to meet with Ahmad Zahid while working at the Defence Ministry, stating: “It’s difficult for me lah to meet Datuk Seri Zahid during office hours. Sometimes I take the time during events for me to speak with Datuk Zahid because I don’t have the opportunity in the office so I take the chance.

“Like that lah, I waited for long outside the room but cannot enter. That is difficult, if able to, it is counted as a bonus,” she said when explaining why it was difficult to meet Ahmad Zahid.

Suriani explained why she had disagreed making up the events on Mazlina by saying that it was because “that incident truly happened and I remember”, again confirming this was not a “lie” .

Earlier, when asked by deputy public prosecutor Abdul Malik Ayob, Suriani confirmed that the incidents she had mentioned regarding Mazlina in paragraphs 21 to 40 of her written witness statement did not mention any connection with the issuance of Yayasan Akalbudi cheques.

Suriani said her testimony in these paragraphs were more about relating Mazlina’s responsibilities and work ethics, initially disagreeing that it was to talk about the weaknesses of Mazlina and insisted it was more to talk about the latter’s character.

Suriani however eventually agreed that the intention behind her remarks was to talk about Mazlina’s weaknesses.

Having known Mazlina for six years while working at the Defence Ministry and later at the Home Ministry, Suriani said she did not know if Mazlina had ever faced any disciplinary action.

Later, Suriani told Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer Aiman that she was relating about Mazlina’s character of allegedly keeping to herself and not seeking opinions from others and suggested that this might lead to any other actions by Mazlina.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court, October 31, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court, October 31, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court, October 31, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Asked about her previous testimony of 1,000 copies of the Al-Quran which Suriani said was donated by Ahamd Zahid for a parents’ day event organised by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry in 2018, Suriani confirmed she had asked Ahmad Zahid for the donation.

Asked if it was a personal donation from Ahmad Zahid instead of by the foundation Yayasan Akalbudi, Suriani said it was from the foundation but she had to refer to Ahmad Zahid as he was the foundation’s chairman.

While Malik suggested that the donation was not from the foundation, Suriani said she recalled he had minuted it to the foundation, but agreed that this minute was not shown in court and that she herself did not remember where this document is now.

Previously on September 22, the prosecution had objected to all of Suriani’s paragraphs which were seen as attacking Mazlina’s credibility, and had also raised objections to paragraphs 42 to 48 of Suriani’s statement relating to donations said to have been made by Ahmad Zahid.

The prosecution had questioned how these paragraphs could be relevant to Ahmad Zahid’s trial, as the donations that Suriani said Ahmad Zahid had made — including 1,000 copies of Al-Quran — had taken place in 2018 which was after the events in this trial.

The judge had previously said he would not make any ruling on the objections at this point of the trial but would deal with them at the end of the trial.

Suriani completed her testimony today, and the trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah will resume tomorrow with new defence witnesses to be called.

In this trial, Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to 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.