Court rejects Zahid’s bid for permanent access to passport

(The Star) – The High Court here has dismissed an application by Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to have permanent access to his passport.

Ahmad Zahid had applied on the basis that having his passport back would help him perform his official functions as Deputy Prime Minister.

In dismissing the application on Friday (Feb 3), Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah said one of Ahmad Zahid’s bail conditions was for him to surrender his passport to the court.

He said the Federal Constitution stipulated that all persons were equal before the law.

“Before the law, there shall be no privilege, person or class above the law,” the judge said.

Justice Sequerah said the court, however, took cognisance that Ahmad Zahid, as a Deputy Prime Minister and Rural and Regional Development Minister, has official duties to perform.

“These duties must not clash with the duty to go to court (which) also has its functions to perform,” he added.

The court therefore allowed Ahmad Zahid to have temporary access to his passport for the purpose of applying for a diplomatic passport.

Following this, Ahmad Zahid would have to return his passport to the court.

On Jan 20, Ahmad Zahid filed the application for permanent release of his passport, which he said was done bona fide (with good intentions) so he could perform his official duties.

His passport was previously surrendered to the court as an additional bail condition after he was charged with 47 counts of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB), which is currently at the defence stage.

In his supporting affidavit, Ahmad Zahid said he faced restrictions in carrying out his duty as a minister as he did not have access to his travel document.

He said he was given the mandate and responsibility from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to appear on his behalf for several administrative functions.

Ahmad Zahid said he needed the passport back as he was required to travel out of the country as part of this duty and it would also help him apply for a diplomatic passport for official travel.