On May 12, 2018, less than 3 days after the stunning defeat of the Barisan Nasional government, an angry crowd of about 100 descended to the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport in Subang (popularly known as the Subang Airport) after reports exploded that former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were about to board a private jet – potentially fleeing away.
A white MPV with heavily tinted windows was prevented by the crowd from going through. The situation became so tense that the Malaysian Light Strike Force had to be deployed. The MPV was only allowed to pass after a window was rolled down to prove Najib was not inside the vehicle. The crowd was so motivated that they were at the airport since 6am.
The private jet owned by Indonesian tycoon Peter Sondakh, the owner of the conglomerate PT Rajawali Corp, was waiting for Najib and Rosmah. Had the flight itinerary to Indonesia not leaked out, it is possible that Najib and Rosmah may have joined their partner-in-crime Jho Low in some paradise indulging lobsters, caviar and their favourite Matsusaka Wagyu beef.
The Immigration Department itself was in the state of confusion, or pretended to be clueless. Earlier on the same day, the immigration department said Najib was not barred from leaving Malaysia, only to quickly blacklist the couple after the Subang airport fiasco and noted the former premier’s indication on Facebook that he and his wife were taking a week long “holiday overseas to rest”.
Once reaches Indonesia, Najib and Rosmah can freely fly to anywhere in the world since their passports were still in their possession. Najib’s passport was only seized on July 4 after he was slapped with charges of money laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust (CBT) stemming from RM42 million transferred to his accounts from a former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.
Now, another loophole which potentially allows corrupt crooks to flee from the country has been closed. Former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing a record 47 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and corruption involving RM124 million, has been denied the request to have his passport returned so that he could perform “Umrah”, known as “mini Hajj”.
Umrah is basically non-mandatory lesser pilgrimage made by Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which may be performed at any time of the year. Hajj, on the other hand, is obligatory or mandatory for every Muslim once in their lifetime – provided they are physically fit and financially capable. And Mr. Zahid wanted to travel to Saudi between May 9 and June 3 to perform the “Umrah”.
However, Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said – “From my understanding, there is no immediate need nor any obligation of the applicant to perform the Umrah. Although the applicant has been performing Umrah for the past 30 years, the situation and circumstances currently prevailing are very different as he is presently facing serious and numerous charges.”
Delivering the bad news to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the judge justified his decision – “The presumption of innocence against the accused must be balanced with the fact that with like of the seriousness of the charges, the likelihood and risk of absconding that can all be discounted. So the application for the release of passport is dismissed.”
Clearly, the judge was smarter than Zahid’s lawyer had anticipated. Sure, the former deputy PM had never failed to perform “Umrah” every year for the past 30 years. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The UMNO second biggest crook could be planning to use the religion card to fly out of the country and seek refuge in Saudi Arabia or nearby U.A.E (United Arab Emirates).
The risk of absconding is extremely high considering Mr. Zahid is looking at a maximum 20 years’ jail, whipping and a fine – if convicted. Like Najib Razak’s partner-in-crime, Jho Low, who was once “protected” in Dubai, copycat Zahid Hamidi could perform the same stunt because the U.A.E. and Malaysia do not have an extradition treaty.
The plan could be for Zahid to flee and only return home to Malaysia after the 15th General Election – if the old Barisan Nasional regime returns to power. It would be a dumb move if the judiciary under the Mahathir government allows the highly corrupted leader to travel to Saudi under the guise of performing “Umrah” only to disappear and never comes back.
Besides, both Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. were involved in the 1MDB scandal, one way or another. The new Pakatan Harapan government’s relationship with Saudi has been strained largely due to the claims by Najib that money suspected to be from 1MDB sovereign-wealth fund was deposited as donations by the Saudi royal family. Mahathir was also not impressed with the excessive “Arabization” of Malaysian Islam.
About 3 months after the downfall of Barisan Nasional, Najib’s plan to build a Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) on a 16-ha plot of land in Putrajaya was scrapped by the new Government of Pakatan Harapan. The KSCIP was a plan endorsed by the despicable Najib to make Malaysia the hub to promote the controversial Wahhabism and Salafism.
To add salt into injury, Mahathir administration had withdrawn Malaysian troops stationed in Saudi Arabia since 2015. In December last year, Deputy Defense Minister Liew Chin Tong revealed that since June 11, 2015, about 27 officers and 62 rank-and-file troops were deployed to Saudi for “Ops Yemen 2” – without approval from the Cabinet.
As it turned out, unlike “Ops Yemen 1”, the “Ops Yemen 2” was not to evacuate Malaysians from the conflict zone, but instead to assist the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in the Yemen War. Essentially, the treasonous and treacherous former Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and his cousin, former PM Najib Razak, had risked the life of Malaysian soldiers sending them to the Yemeni Civil War.
While not many realize the significance of the cancellation of a working visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Malaysia, it actually spoke volumes about the hostility between Malaysia under the new government with Saudi. Any diplomatic expert will tell you that something was wrong when the visit was cancelled just 1 day before the prince was due to arriving on Feb 17.
On Oct 22 last year, PM Mahathir openly condemned the killing of Khashoggi and described it as an act of “extreme cruelty” and unacceptable. How could the Malaysian leader rubs shoulders with a man whom he had just accused as a brutal murderer? Coincidentally, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed was also the architect behind the Yemeni Civil War.
Hence, the probability of Saudi or U.A.E. harbouring corrupt crooks like Zahid Hamidi, instead of extraditing him, is incredibly high. If Malaysia could not even get U.A.E.’s assistance in handing over Jho Low, what more a fellow Muslim like Zahid? There’s little doubt that the Java-immigrant Zahid, also known for his thuggery and racism, is a flight risk.
The judge was right to deny Zahid Hamidi, or other crooks of the previous regime for that matter, the return of passport to travel to Saudi to perform “Umrah”. The educated guess is 100% of UMNO leaders have had performed Hajj, the mandatory religious duty for Muslims. This means all of them can be denied their request to perform the “Umrah”, which is not compulsory.
Source : Finance Twitter