Syed Saddiq would rather fight graft charges than support Perikatan Nasional gov’t

Malaysian politician Syed Saddiq going through donations in photo posted online on July 20, 2021. Photo: SyedSaddiq/Twitter
Malaysian politician Syed Saddiq going through donations in photo posted online on July 20, 2021. Photo: SyedSaddiq/Twitter

Popular politician Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman is all set to challenge the government after pleading not guilty to corruption charges he claims had to do with him resisting support for the Muhyiddin administration. 

The former youth and sports minister, 28, was charged with criminal breach of trust this morning for allegedly misappropriating RM1 million worth of funds (over US$300,000) from the Bersatu political party led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. He was accused of committing the offense while serving as Bersatu’s youth chief on March 6, 2020, via a CIMB Bank cheque, at the bank’s branch in KL Sentral.

“I will never sell my soul and principles to Perikatan Nasional,” Syed Saddiq said in a video responding to the accusation last night, adding that he would rather go to court than join Perikatan Nasional. He could be jailed, whipped, and fined if found guilty. 

The court granted him a RM300,000 bail with one surety and ordered that he surrender his passport and report himself to the anti-graft agency office every month. 

Syed Saddiq was also charged with misusing a RM120,000 donation from the 2018 general election campaign. For this offense, the court granted him RM30,000 bail with one surety, which was one-tenth of the amount requested by the prosecution. Syed Saddiq’s lawyer had questioned why the prosecution was seeking an amount higher than what his client was accused of stealing and went on to ask for a RM20,000 bail. 

Syed Saddiq was represented by lawyers Gobind Singh Deo, Ambiga Sreenevasan, and Haijan Omar. The case will be heard again on Sep. 10. 

Syed Saddiq, who used to be Malaysia’s youngest cabinet minister under Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership, alleged that he had been receiving threats from unspecified individuals pressuring him to join the ruling coalition. He currently heads his own party called MUDA – Malaysia’s first youth-based political party that sits on the opposition bloc. 

An explosive claim by Syed Saddiq that was revealed in a court affidavit in January said that Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin had asked him to support the Perikatan Nasional-led government if he wanted MUDA to be officially registered. The discussion with the minister, who oversees the Registrar of Societies, happened when Syed Saddiq brought up the matter during a session at the Dewan Rakyat lower house of Parliament, he said. Hamzah is also the secretary-general for both Perikatan Nasional and Bersatu.

Opposition politician Hannah Yeoh from the Democratic Action Party was among those who showed support for Syed Saddiq online, noting that the man was able to raise RM1 million with a single haircut. The politician had gone bald for his 1 Family 1 Laptop fundraising campaign that garnered RM1.4 million in donations in six months.

Parliament will sit for the first time this year on Monday, with doubts remaining over Muhyiddin’s wafer-thin majority.

Last year, Syed Saddiq lodged a police report over money worth RM250,000 that allegedly went missing from his house in Selangor, prompting a probe by the anti-graft agency.

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