KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan today advised Muar Member of Parliament Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman to be more careful when issuing statements on social media regarding his court case.
The judge said the former Youth and Sports Minister should differentiate his position as a politician and as an accused when issuing a statement.
“In a way, I understand his predicament, but he has to separate his hats, from being a politician and an accused. I’m sure from time to time you (lawyer) will be able to consult him on what to do (in regards to his social media postings),” he said at the first mention proceedings of the case in the High Court today.
Judge Mohamed Zaini gave the advice after deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), reminded Syed Saddiq to exercise caution when making statements on charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering, and misappropriation of funds facing him in court on social media.
He said Syed Saddiq should not issue a statement to defend himself of the charges prior to the trial of the case.
“This is not a gag order (prohibition order), just an advice from people who are more mature than the accused. Previously there were several posts on his Facebook that commented on the course of this case. and he had given his defense.”
“I am just reminding the accused to be more careful because the defense he submitted on his Facebook can be used against him,” he added.
Counsel Gobind Singh Deo, representing Syed Saddiq, said he took note of the judge’s remarks, but that his client should be given more flexible space to explain to the public the case facing him in court.
At today’s proceedings, the court also set 22 days to hear the case, from June 7 to 10, June 20-22, June 27 and 28, as well as July 4-8, July 13-15, and July 18-22.
Earlier, Syed Saddiq, 29, maintained his not guilty plea to charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), misappropriation of funds, and money laundering which were read out before Judge Mohamed Zaini, following the court’s decision on Nov 25 last year in allowing the MP’s application to transfer the case from the Sessions Court to the High Court.
On the CBT charge, Syed Saddiq, 28, was charged in his capacity as then Angkatan Bersatu Anak Muda or Armada, the youth wing of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chief, who was entrusted with Armada’s fund, committed the offense by withdrawing RM1 million from the fund via a CIMB Bank Berhad cheque without the permission of the party’s (Bersatu) Supreme Council.
He was alleged to have committed the offense at CIMB Bank Berhad, Menara CIMB KL Sentral, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, here on March 6, 2020, under Section 405 of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 406 of the same law, which provides an imprisonment for up to 10 years with whipping and is liable to a fine, if found guilty.
Syed Saddiq was also charged with misusing RM120,000 in contributions for the GE14 campaign raised through a Maybank Islamic Berhad account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise at Maybank Islamic Berhad, Jalan Pandan 3/6A, Taman Pandan Jaya between April 8 and 21, 2018.
He faced imprisonment for up to five years with whipping and is liable to a fine if found guilty of the offense, which is framed under Section 403 of the Penal Code.
He was also charged with two counts of engaging in money laundering activities, namely two transactions of RM50,000, believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities, from his Maybank Islamic Berhad account into his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account at a bank in Jalan Persisiran Perling, Taman Perling, Johor Bahru on June 16 and June 19, 2018.
The charges were framed under Section 4 (1) (b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 which is punishable under Section 4 (1) of the same act, providing maximum imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount or the proceeds of illegal activities.