Former Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sport Syed Saddiq was ordered to enter his defence on charges of abetting in criminal breach of trust (CBT) on Oct. 28 by the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
According to MalaysiaKini, Saddiq has to answer four criminal charges related to his time as the youth wing chief of Bersatu, his former political party.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court said that the prosecution succeeded in proving a "prima facie case" against Syed Saddiq for allegedly abetting CBT, misappropriation of assets, and money laundering in relation to RM1.12 million (S$336,000) of party funds.
Judicial Commissioner Azhar Abdul Hamid said that Syed Saddiq had three options, to either remain silent, give an unsworn statement, or give sworn testimony.
Syed Saddiq's lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said that Syed Saddiq would enter a sworn statement, and that he would call 15 witness including Syed Saddiq himself.
According to The Edge Markets, one charge against Syed Saddiq was that he had abetted former assistant treasurer of Armada (Bersatu's Youth Wing), Rafiq Hakim Razali, into allegedly committing CBT involving RM1 million (S$298,500) of party funds in March 2020.
Prosecution and defence arguments
The prosecution presented evidence such as WhatsApp conversations and witnesses that it claimed proved Syed Saddiq's ill intent.
Syed Saddiq's defence countered saying that the money was used for the party, highlighting Covid-19 assistance, as well as for Ramadan and Hari Raya. They also said that Syed Saddiq received no monies from his withdrawal of party monies.
Malaysia began its Movement Control Order, essentially a Covid-19 lockdown, in May 2020.
Saddiq was expelled from Bersatu in May 2020, after the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.
A second charge was related to money laundering. Money raised in two fundraisers in 2018 from a company set up to raise funds for Armada through merchandise sales was moved to Syed Saddiq's personal account.
The prosecution claimed the money was meant for the use of the party, whereas the defence claimed the money was raised for Syed Saddiq's election campaign and therefore belonged to him.
Saddiq is also facing two additional charges of alleged money laundering related to two RM50,000 (S$15,000) transactions in June 2018.
The trial will take place between February and April 2023, well after the upcoming general election, where Syed Saddiq is expected to defend his Muar parliamentary seat.
His lawyer Singh is also an opposition politician for the Democratic Action Party, as well as a sitting MP before parliament was dissolved.
Saddiq is currently the president of youth orientated party MUDA. MUDA is expected to work together with the DAP under the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
The Malay Mail reports that the prosecution portion of the case, which took place over 21 days and ended in September, had called 37 witnesses, of which 29 appeared in court.
If convicted, Syed Saddiq could be whipped, jailed, and fined, with the most serious charge coming with up to 15 years in jail.
MalaysiaKini quotes Saddiq as saying that the time had come for him to defend himself in court, and to tell his side of the story, and that "justice can win and justice is fair".
According to The Edge, he added that it was an opportunity to clear his name in a court of law.
"It has come where I am given an opportunity to give a sworn testimony, and to call defence witnesses to tell my side of the story, so that justice can win," he said.When asked about his upcoming campaign, Syed Saddiq replied that he would consult his party, but that he would "leave it to the good people of Muar".
Top image via Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman/Facebook