Isa’s ex-aide stands by ‘kirim salam’ as code to ask for money

Muhammad Zahid Md Arip (left), a former aide to Isa Samad, says he received between RM10,000 and RM50,000 for collecting money on his boss’ behalf.

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness in Isa Samad’s corruption trial told the High Court that he took money from the former Felda chairman without asking if it was from alleged kickbacks from a hotel deal.

Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, who was Isa’s former special officer from 2011 to 2016, said that he collected money on behalf of Isa between July 2014 and December 2015 from Sarawakian businessman Ikhwan Zaidel.

“I just take what Tan Sri (Isa) gave me. I did not ask where the money came from,” he said when cross-examined by Isa’s lawyer Salehuddin Saidin.

Zahid earlier said that Isa would give him between RM10,000 and RM50,000 each time after he collected money on his former boss’ behalf.

He also told the court that the authorities did not force him to implicate Isa in an attempt to avoid prosecution during his eight-day remand to facilitate investigations into Felda’s purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel and Suites in 2017.

Arrested along with him was former Felda Investment Corporation (FIC) chief executive officer Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil.

Salehuddin put it to the witness: “They (MACC) asked you to implicate Isa after your fourth day of remand, or else you will be charged as they believed you were the prime suspect?”

Zahid disagreed with the suggestion.

The lawyer then questioned Zahid on his understanding of the purported secret code of “kirim salam” (sending greetings), adding that Isa had never said he wanted political funding for his work.

“It was your own interpretation,” Salehuddin said.

In response, Zahid stood by his witness statement and said that “kirim salam” was a code to ask for money.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on Jan 14.

Before the court adjourned, deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz said they wished to amend the dates on Isa’s corruption charges.

To that, Salehuddin objected, saying “it was illogical for the DPP to amend the charges at the eleventh hour”.

Nazlan said the court would decide tomorrow on whether to grant the prosecution’s request for amendments.

Isa is facing one charge of CBT and nine counts of corruption for allegedly receiving over RM3 million at Menara Felda, Platinum Park, Persiaran KLCC, between April 29, 2014 and Dec 11, 2015.

The CBT charge provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years, whipping and a fine upon conviction, while the corruption charges allow for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount.