Facing graft charges and passport in hand, Zahid set to ’embarrass’ Malaysia abroad, says veteran diplomat

(Malaysia Now) – A veteran Malaysian diplomat has warned that the decision to return Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s international passport will undermine Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s efforts to project his administration as graft-free.

Dennis Ignatius, who last served as the Malaysian ambassador to Canada, said the deputy prime minister appeared to be pursuing his own agenda instead of working for the success of Anwar’s four-month-old government.

Given the multiple corruption charges against Zahid in court, he said the Umno president would be an embarrassment if he travelled to represent the Anwar administration abroad.

“What message will it convey to the world when the deputy prime minister of a government that is supposedly committed to good governance and fighting corruption is himself facing multiple charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of power?” said Ignatius, writing in his blog.

Last week, Zahid, who is facing 47 counts of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving a charitable foundation, succeeded in his bid for the permanent return of his passport after the Court of Appeal allowed his request for the purpose of carrying out his official duties abroad.

In the aftermath of the general election last year which resulted in a hung parliament, Zahid played a vital role in pushing through the support of Barisan Nasional MPs for Anwar, despite strong resistance from senior leaders who referred to Umno’s stand against cooperation with Anwar and Pakatan Harapan component DAP.

Ignatius said Anwar would soon find himself in trouble as Zahid had proven to be behind efforts to destabilise state governments in order to tighten his grip in Umno.

He cited the role played by Zahid when “his henchman” in Sabah tried to overthrow the state government, as well as the recent replacement of the Melaka chief minister with his own man.

“What does it say about Zahid’s priorities when he continues to undermine the political stability that his boss the prime minister is working so hard to consolidate?” asked Ignatius.

He also criticised DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke for justifying a series of political appointments to government bodies, which saw Zahid’s allies placed at important agencies such as Mara and Felcra.

“Loke and others might jump through hoops to justify Zahid’s appalling appointments but the people are not so easily fooled. All they see are conniving and unprincipled politicians who can’t be trusted to honour their promises and live up to their own ideals,” he added.