Caught up in some Home Affairs
Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Amidi was apprehended earlier this Thursday by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), facing a laundry list of 45 charges that include corruption and criminal breach of trust. In particular, local media outlets have reported that Dr Ahmad had misappropriated a sum of up to RM800 000 from Yayasan Akal Budi (a charity fund he chairs), to pay off personal credit card debts. He has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the transaction was an error made by an aide and that the amount was eventually repaid in full.
Furthermore, prosecutors allege that Dr Ahmad received bribes during his stint as Home Affairs Minister, in exchange for awarding government contracts to companies such as Datasonic Group, the supplier of 12.5 million electronic chips used in Malaysian passports. In response, Datasonic denied the accusations, claiming that the contract for electronic chips had been won through an open tender.
What now for the “Opposition”?
This latest arrest would serve as another major blow to the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) which had been Malaysia’s ruling party for the past six decades. Dr Ahmad Zahid was appointed as president of UMNO in July, taking over former Prime Minister Najib Razak right after the shocking defeat of UMNO in the Malaysian General Elections earlier in May this year. With separate graft-related charges faced by Najib Razak and the erosion of UMNO’s coalition partners over the past few months, the fate of UMNO hangs in the balance. UMNO deputy president Mohd Hasan has called for an emergency meeting of the party to discuss the fate of Dr Ahmad as president.
UMNO has stood by their claim that the charges were politically motivated. Supporters of Dr Ahmad Zahid were gathered outside Kuala Lumpur’s court complex to protest against what was seen as an abuse of power by the incumbent Pakatan Harapan government.