It’s just an accusation, says Dr M in defence of his pol-sec

Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today defended his political secretary, Muhammad Zahid Arip, whose name is mentioned in corruption charges against former Felda chairman Isa Samad.

Isa, the former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar, had been charged with nine counts of accepting bribes amounting to RM3 million in connection with the hotel purchase in Sarawak for RM160 million.

Zahid, who is Isa’s former special officer, had allegedly collected the amounts on the latter’s behalf.

In response to this, Mahathir said at this juncture, this was a mere accusation.

“It is just an accusation. Whether it is true or not, we do not know.

“If he is convicted of a crime, then no lah,” he said in response to whether Zahid is still serving as his political secretary.

Isa had claimed trial at the Sessions Court today to committing criminal breach of trust (CBT) in the purchase of a hotel in Sarawak for RM160 million, which was allegedly above market value.

For the CBT case, the 69-year-old was accused of committing the offence at the Felda headquarters here on April 29, 2014.

He was said to have approved the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching without the approval of the Felda board of directors, in his capacity as the director of Felda Investment Corporation (FIC), the investment arm of the national land agency.

The board, on June 25, 2013, is said to have only given FIC the mandate to make investments in properties worth RM100 million and below.

For the nine counts of accepting bribes, Isa was said to have received RM100,000, RM140,000 and RM250,000 on one occasion, RM300,000 on two occasions and RM500,000 on four.