Zahid escapes contempt of court over meeting with PM

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today refused the prosecution’s application to cite Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for contempt of court, saying there had been a miscommunication between counsel and client.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said the misunderstanding was due to the wrong use of words in court yesterday.

“I accept that there was a miscommunication in taking instructions from the accused by the lawyers,” he said.

He also accepted an apology from Zahid, who is facing charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and corruption.

“He had no intention of misleading the court. He has also promised not to repeat it,” he said in the packed courtroom.

However, he also said he would not condone such acts or conduct as the dignity and integrity of the court must be upheld.

“I will not hesitate to impose a jail term or fine,” he added.

Deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran yesterday applied to the court to cite Zahid for contempt for making a false statement.

This was after Zahid’s lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, applied for an adjournment of proceedings, saying his client was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin over Cabinet appointments.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) later denied that political leaders were scheduled to meet over the matter.

It said Muhyiddin was only meeting the chief secretary to the government and the heads of government agencies to coordinate the smooth running of the government.

Sequerah had adjourned his decision after Zahid promised to produce the letter inviting him for a meeting at the PMO.

Raja Rozela and Hisyam also made submissions for and against the court moving contempt proceedings against Zahid.

Hisyam said there was a meeting between his client, who is the leader of a political party, and an unidentified individual to discuss the affairs of the state.

“Perhaps the accused was not precise in his instructions. With clarity, this episode could have been avoided,” he added.

Zahid, who also addressed the judge, said the misunderstanding was his fault.

“I apologise for the confusion and misunderstanding. I had no intention of misleading the court,” he said.

He added that he could not produce the letter as promised as the person whose name he did not disclose had yet to be appointed as political secretary.

However, Raja Rozela said Zahid was making up a story that such a letter had been issued to him.

She said it was obvious from his explanation that there was never a meeting with the prime minister.

“This court also has the power under Article 126 of the Federal Constitution to summarily punish the accused,” she added.

Zahid, the Umno president and Bagan Datuk MP, is facing 47 charges of CBT involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds, money laundering as well as accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister.