Syed Saddiq jailed 7 years, fined RM10mil

Justice Azhar Abdul Hamid also orders the second-term Muar MP to be whipped twice.

(FMT) – Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has been sentenced to seven years jail and a RM10 million fine after being convicted of abetting in criminal breach of trust (CBT), misappropriation of assets and money laundering.

Justice Azhar Abdul Hamid sentenced the Muda president to three years in prison and to be whipped once for the CBT charge.

The High Court judge further sentenced Syed Saddiq to another two years jail and one stroke of the rotan for embezzlement of assets that belonged to the youth wing of Bersatu.

Both these sentences are to run consecutively, meaning he will serve five years.

Azhar also imposed a jail term of two years each for the two counts of money laundering, and a fine of RM5 million each.

However, he ordered these two sentences to run concurrently.

The judge allowed an application by the defence to stay the jail, fine and whipping sentences pending an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

He also ordered that all bail conditions be retained pending the appeal, including the sum of RM300,000 posted by Syed Saddiq when charged initially.

Syed Saddiq, 30, has the distinction of being the first elected representative to be ordered to be whipped for a white-collar crime under the Penal Code. The law exempts those aged 50 and above from the punishment.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin pressed for a deterrent sentence, saying white collar crimes such as CBT were now rampant among politicians.

“A clear message must be sent to other politicians before they think of committing such crimes,” he said, adding that the court should put public interest first rather than that of the accused.

Wan Shaharuddin said Syed Saddiq had also betrayed the trust placed in him by the people who voted him to public office.

He said the crimes were not carried out at the spur of the moment but were premeditated.

He proposed that the jail terms imposed in respect of the four offences run consecutively, and for Syed Saddiq to be imposed with a hefty fine. He also asked the court to order that Syed Saddiq be whipped.

Lawyer Haijan Omar requested that the court only impose a jail term or a minimum fine.

Lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo said whipping and a fine for committing money laundering offences were at the discretion of the court.

He said the court should also consider that the accused used the money to assist the poor and the needy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“My client has also been consistent that the money was used to fund his election expenses when he contested the Muar seat in 2018,” he said.

Lawyer Rafique Rashid Ali said that despite the conviction, Syed Saddiq will remain the Muar MP until his right of appeal is exhausted.

He said Article 48(4)(b) of the Federal Constitution states that the disqualification from being an MP only takes effect when a final decision is made by the highest court which, in this case, would be the Federal Court.

“Therefore, he can still attend Dewan Rakyat sessions, debate and vote in any motions and others,” he said when explaining that Syed Saddiq could still carry out his duties as an MP.