UKSB funds recipients deny receiving money as it will be hard to prove - Experts
SHAH ALAM - It would be a difficult task to prove whether the political leaders whose names cropped up during the bribery trial of Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had received money from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB).
Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research Professor Dr Azmi Hassan said with no law on political funding, there was nothing wrong for a political party or a politician to receive funds for political purposes.
"One thing for sure, we do not have a Political Funding Act, so there is nothing wrong for a political party or politician to receive funds for the purpose of politics,” he told Sinar Daily.
Azmi said this in light of the testimonies by the former employees of UKSB in the trial of the former deputy prime minister who was charged with 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to SG$13.56 million from the company.
In the latest development, the High Court, here, was told that UKSB gave a political donation of RM2.6 million to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Those who were mentioned during the trial including Dr Mahathir, Shahril Sufian Hamdan (Umno information chief), MCA leaders, and others have denied the allegations as it was hard to prove.
"But we have to acknowledge that there is nothing wrong in receiving a political donation, unless it could be proven that the funds are not used for that purpose.
“In this case, it is an alleged corruption, not political funding," he said.
This, he said showed how crucial it was to enact the Political Funding Act.
However, he said it would take some time before the matter could be debated in Parliament.
"Compared to the Anti-Party Hopping Bill, the Political Funding Bill is more critical as it involved disguising money as political funds like in this case.
"We have to be more stringent. UKSB is a Malaysian-based company, but as we heard (in the trial), the money was from Hong Kong so it is an issue of foreign funding which is very dangerous as it involves our sovereignty," he added.
Meanwhile, political analyst Dr Jeniri Amir said such cases were difficult to prove since monies were given out in cash which could not be traced.
This would lead to a lot of speculations by the public on whether the money was truly being used for political purposes or for their personal use.
"At some extent, such cases are difficult to prove because the money was given out in cash not cheque. Unless the person involved had signed some documents which could be produced in court, if not, it is going to be difficult.
"Normally, in these kinds of cases, they do not put anything in black and white and only the person who wrote down the names would know who is the receiver," he said.
Throughout Zahid’s trial, names of several prominent political leaders cropped up and they were alleged to have received political donations from UKSB.
They were named in the company’s ledger under code names.
The Bagan Datuk MP had the codenames “Z”, “ZH”, “YB”, “MON” and “Young Boy” in the ledger.
Besides, Dr Mahathir and Shahril, witnesses have also named former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, former transport minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy and former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Ong Ka Chuan in their testimonies.
Zahid, 69, was charged with receiving the money in his capacity as home minister at that time as an inducement to extend UKSB’s contract as the operator of a one-stop centre in China and the foreign visa system, as well as to maintain the agreement to supply a foreign visa integrated system to the company by the ministry.
He was charged with seven counts of accepting SG$1,150,000, RM3 million, €15,000 and US$15,000 in cash from the same company, which he knew had connections with his official function as the home minister.
He was alleged to have committed the offences at Sri Satria, Presint 16 in Putrajaya and Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.