Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, a prominent figure in the country’s political landscape, has been handed a seven-year prison sentence and a RM10 million fine today.
The verdict came after the 30-year-old was found guilty of abetting in criminal breach of trust (CBT), misappropriation of assets, and money laundering.
The verdict was delivered by Justice Azhar Abdul Hamid at the High Court, who wasted no time in delivering the sentence. Syed Saddiq was sentenced to three years in prison and one stroke of the rotan for his involvement in CBT.
The judge added an additional two-year jail term and a rotan stroke for embezzlement of assets belonging to the youth wing of Bersatu, adding up to five years in prison, thus far.
The legal blow did not end there, as Azhar further imposed two-year jail terms and RM5 million fines for each of the two counts of money laundering, with the condition that these sentences would run concurrently.
In an unexpected twist, Syed Saddiq’s defense team successfully applied for a stay on the jail term, fine, and whipping sentence, pending an appeal to the Court of Appeal. All bail conditions, including the RM300,000 bond posted by the accused at the time of his initial charges, will remain in place until the appeal process is concluded.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin was adamant about the need for a severe sentence, emphasizing the importance of deterring white-collar crimes, especially among politicians.
“A clear message must be sent to other politicians before they think of committing such crimes,” he said, noting that Syed Saddiq had betrayed the trust of the electorate who had voted him into public office, and these crimes were described as premeditated rather than impulsive acts.
In contrast, the defense sought a more lenient sentence, requesting the court to impose either a jail term or a minimum fine.
Lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo argued that the decision on whipping and the fine for money laundering offenses was at the court’s discretion.
He emphasized that Syed Saddiq had used the funds to assist the less fortunate during the COVID-19 pandemic and for election expenses during his 2018 Muar constituency contest.
Adding to the legal complexities, lawyer Rafique Rashid Al clarified that despite the conviction, Syed Saddiq would remain the Muar MP until he exhausted his right of appeal. He cited Article 48(4)(b) of the Federal Constitution, which states that disqualification from being an MP only occurs when a final decision is reached by the highest court, in this case, the Federal Court.
As such, Syed Saddiq will continue to fulfill his parliamentary duties, attending Dewan Rakyat sessions, participating in debates, and voting on motions and other legislative matters.
Saddiq burst onto the political scene in 2018 when he ran for the Muar parliamentary seat in the 2018 general election (GE14) and secured a victory, earning a seat in Parliament. Following his election, he achieved a historic milestone by being appointed as the Minister of Youth and Sports in the newly-formed Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, becoming the youngest federal minister in Malaysia since the country’s independence in 1957.