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Zahid tells court charity work could not continue as Yayasan Akalbudi funds frozen

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court April 13, 2022. — Picture by Devan Manuel

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the High Court here today that he could not continue with his charity work after the Yayasan Akalbudi funds were frozen.

Ahmad Zahid, 69, disclosed this when questioned by his counsel, Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal in his defence against 47 charges involving criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering.

“Since I was charged in court (in 2018), the (Yayasan Akalbudi) bank account was frozen and I could no longer provide welfare aid,” he said when testifying from the witness stand during the first day of his defence proceeding.

The Member of Parliament for Bagan Datuk said the foundation’s funds were not only channelled for welfare work in the constituency, but also for the construction of a mosque in Yunnan, China which cost RM3.8 million and renovation work for a 400-year-old mosque in a Malay village in Cape Town, South Africa which cost US$1 million (RM4.2 million).

“Besides that, Yayasan Akalbudi bore the cost of renovating an old church building that was bought by the Muslim community in Perth, Australia to be turned into a mosque.

“Yayasan Akalbudi also provided millions of ringgit in funds for printing the Quran to be distributed to a number of countries with Muslim minorities such as Cambodia, China and Korea,” he added.

Ahmad Zahid said the foundation also contributed RM8 million for the building of dataran Masjid Tuminah Hamidi (which is still under construction), besides channelling aid to Chinese and Indian families in conjunction with the Chinese New Year and Deepavali celebrations.

Ahmad Zaidi: The objectives of Yayasan Akalbudi were towards contributing to Islam, so why were its funds channelled to other religions?

Ahmad Zahid: I’m a true Malaysian and Islam is my religion. I’m being fair to others religion as it is my responsibility to provide facilities for people of other religions to enable them to carry out their religious activities.

He said the foundation also bore the expenses for tickets, hotel accommodation, and food and drinks of police and other security personnel involved in operations related to the MH17 tragedy (July 17, 2014).

Questioned by Ahmad Zaidi why the Malaysian government did not bear the cost but the foundation did it instead, Ahmad Zahid said the incident happened suddenly while the advance had not come yet from the government.

“Therefore, the foundation bore the expenditure of the forensic and Royal Malaysia Police teams and members of the other security forces to be sent there (Ukraine) to identify the bodies of the MH17 crash victims. The Inspector-General of Police and I also went to Ukraine,” he added.

Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges with 12 of these involving CBT, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit of Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

Last Jan 24, the court ordered Ahmad Zahid to make his defence against all the charges after the prosecution managed to prove prima facie against him.

The trial before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Friday (April 15). — Bernama

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