Muda chief sees anti-Zahid slogan returning to haunt Pakatan

Ravin Palanisamy Mohd Farhan Darwis

Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman says Pakatan Harapan should not be offended if its general election slogan is now refined to ‘a vote for Pakatan is a vote for Zahid’. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, July 13, 2023.

THE famous “A vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) is a vote for Ahmad Zahid Hamidi” slogan used by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in last year’s general election could return to haunt the unity government in the August 12 state elections, Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said.

He said PH should not be offended if the phrase is now refined to “a vote for Pakatan is a vote for Zahid”.

“I remember. This was the campaign to take down Khairy Jamaluddin in Sungai Buloh (during the general election),” the Muar MP said in an exclusive interview with The Malaysian Insight.  

“That (narrative) was used against him time after time and it was effective.

“Yet, today, when people say a vote for Pakatan is a vote for Zahid’s freedom and (former prime minister) Najib Razak’s pardon, some get very angry. But the same people used the same argument previously.”

During the November general election, several PH leaders used the narrative to draw voters away from the scandal-tainted Umno/BN.

They said voting for BN would be equivalent to voting to free its leaders Zahid and Najib from their ongoing criminal trials.

Umno president Zahid and his predecessor, Najib, are facing several trials linked to corruption.

Despite Zahid’s criminal charges, he was made the deputy prime minister and rural and regional development minister in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government, after the former’s coalition, BN, agreed to form the unity government following the general election.

Meanwhile, Najib was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million after he was found guilty of all seven charges related to the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds. He is now serving his sentence in Kajang Prison.

Syed Saddiq said he does not have to say or remind people of the narrative.

“I can tell you that the public knows it. The public is saying it and I think the public will vote in the very way,” he said.

Syed Saddiq’s Muda, which formed an electoral pact with PH for the general election, has decided to go solo for the state elections in Kedah, Penang, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has sent a representation to the Attorney-General’s Chamber to have his graft charges dropped. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, July 13, 2023.

High-profile cases

Syed Saddiq said those in the government now had wanted Zahid to be charged in court.

He, however, said those who were vocal while they were in the opposition are silent when cases involving Zahid and Najib are being postponed.

“It wasn’t me who chanted ‘if we win GE15 (November general election), Zahid will be put behind bars’. I didn’t say that,” he said.

“I said we follow the legal procedure and that he needs to be tried in court.

“But those who said ‘if we win tomorrow, we put Zahid in jail’ are now completely silent when these big cases are postponed.”

The former youth and sports minister also said it is becoming unconventional to see prosecutions not objecting to postponements of high-profile criminal cases.

“Let’s look at the facts today. Cases have been postponed indefinitely.

“And if you read the article, it specifically states that the attorney-general instructed the prosecutor (do so). What does that tell you?” he asked.

Earlier this year, the prosecution in the criminal breach of trust (CBT) case involving Najib and former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah on payments to International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) requested that the hearing be postponed due to new developments.  

Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said the case “may not need to continue” in the event that the developments take place.

On October 24, 2018, Najib and Irwan pleaded not guilty to six charges of CBT amounting to RM6.6 billion in government funds involving payments to IPIC.

Meanwhile, Zahid, who is facing 47 charges – 12 counts of CBT in relation to over RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering and eight counts of bribery amounting RM21.25 million – in a trial in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, has sent a representation to the Attorney-General’s Chamber to have his graft charges dropped.

Citing new facts and evidence in the case, Zahid also applied to postpone the trial because of the latest development and to wait for the decision on the representation. – July 13, 2023.

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