Court rejects Zahid’s request for permanent release of passport

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The Kuala Lumpur High Court today rejected an application by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for his passport to be returned permanently to him to allow him to carry out his official duties.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said the court would treat all accused equally in refusing permanent possession of their passports.

He, however, said the deputy prime minister’s passport can be released to him temporarily so that he can apply for a diplomatic passport.

He said Zahid, who is facing 47 corruption charges, must return his passport to the court after applying for a diplomatic passport.

“There is no distinction between one accused and another. As such, the application to have his personal passport released permanently is dismissed,” said Sequerah.

The High Court is withholding Zahid’s passport as part of his conditional bail pending the outcome of his corruption trial.

Last week, Zahid applied to the court to permanently return his passport so that he can carry out his official duties.

The Umno president is accused of 47 counts of money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister in the previous Barisan Nasional administration.

Zahid said in an affidavit that he needed his passport to effectively carry out his duties, which included official trips overseas.

“As deputy prime minister, I have a mandate from Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to represent him for official matters (overseas),” he said.

Hari Anggara

Zahid said he had no intention of running away and vowed to attend trial on the dates set by the court.

Zahid, who is also rural and regional development minister, said he faced restrictions in carrying out his duties as he did not have access to his passport.

He also said he needed it to apply for a diplomatic passport from the Immigration Department for his official duties.

With the return of the passport, Zahid said, he would no longer need to apply for a temporary release of the document through the courts. – TMI