Former aide’s visit to hotel in Kuching not at my behest, Isa Samad tells court

Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex August 17, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex August 17, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Former Felda chairman, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad in his defence in the High Court here today said that the visit of his special political officer to the Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak in 2013 was not on his instructions.

Mohd Isa, 71, said Muhammad Zahid Md Arip did not visit the hotel on official business, but on personal matters to find out the political situation there.

“Visiting the MPHS was the official job for former Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) chief executive officer Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil, not the official job of Muhammad Zahid. He (Muhammad Zahid) wanted to follow (Mohd Zaid) to Sarawak because he wanted to know about the politics there, “he said.

He said this during the cross-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz on the first day of the defence proceedings against nine corruption charges against Mohd Isa.

Asked Afzainizam, did Muhammad Zahid tell Mohd Isa about politics in Sarawak after returning from Kuching, Mohd Isa replied “no”.

Earlier, Muhammad Zahid, who is the 21st prosecution witness, told the court that he had applied for Mohd Isa’s permission to follow Mohd Zaid to visit MPHS to see if the hotel had investment potential or not and after returning from the visit, Muhammad Zahid had met Mohd Isa to report the results of the working visit.

Meanwhile, when asked by Afzainizam whether former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had instructed a review of the purchase of the hotel, Mohd Isa said it was a directive and a request.

Afzainizam: Datuk Seri Najib told about the matter (review the purchase) by phone?

Mohd Isa: Right.

Afzainizam: (Do you) agree with my suggestion that Muhammad Zahid had listened to the conversation (about the hotel) between Tan Sri (Mohd Isa) and Najib in the office (Felda)?

Mohd Isa: I disagree because at that time I was with another officer, not Muhammad Zahid.

On January 13, Muhammad Zahid told the court that Mohd Isa had received instructions from Najib to repurchase MPHS by telephone after his purchase proposal was rejected by FICSB Board Members.

Mohd Isa was charged with nine counts of bribery, namely receiving bribes for himself amounting to RM3,090,000 from Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd Board Member, Ikhwan Zaidel through Muhammad Zahid, as a token of gratitude to help approve the purchase of a hotel by FICSB for RM160 million.

All the offences were allegedly committed on the 49th Floor, Felda Tower, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC, here, between July 21, 2014 and December 11, 2015.

Each indictment is charged under Section 16 (a) (A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and is punishable under Section 24 (1) of the same act, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount or value of the bribe or RM10,000 whichever is higher, if convicted.

The trial before Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues this Wednesday. — Bernama

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