Zahid, Shafee Fail Again in Bid to Get Passport to Travel

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Zahid is to perform the umrah while Shafee is to attend an Aussie case.

Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has failed again in his bid to obtain his passport from the court in order to perform the umrah or pilgrimage.

A Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, today dismissed his appeal against the lower court’s decision denying him his passport.

“We find no reason to disturb the decision of the High Court judge in exercising his discretion,” she said.

Other judges on the panel were Harminder Singh Dhaliwal and Stephen Chung.

Lawyer Hisyam Teh, representing Zahid, told the appeals court today that the High Court had erred in its decision to deny Zahid his passport.

“The lower court did not consider in its judgment whether the application was made in good faith,” he said, adding that Zahid had provided his travel itinerary for Mecca from May 19 to June 3.

Zahid himself addressed the court as well, saying he had promised to perform the umrah in Mecca every year.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi said the Attorney-General’s Chambers objected to Zahid’s application on grounds that he is facing 47 charges.

“We are not stopping a person from performing his religious duties. We want to prevent individuals accused of serious crimes from absconding,” he said.

But Hisyam said there was no basis to the prosecution’s argument that Zahid is likely to flee.

Similarly, lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah today also failed to get his passport returned temporarily in order for him to be present in an Australia court to assist in a drug case involving a Malaysian.

The prominent lawyer had handed over his passport in September last year after he claimed trial to four counts of money laundering in connection with an RM9.5 million payment from former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah agreed with the prosecution that there is no compelling reason for Shafee to be in the Australia court as the latter is merely to assist there.

He said Shafee being present at Australia’s detention facility is only for the purpose of assisting in translation from Bahasa Malaysia.

“To that extent, the applicant (Shafee) could send a member of his firm to assist.

“It is evident therefore that the applicant present there is merely to assist as there are Australian solicitors on record. Therefore, (there is) no compelling reason for the applicant’s presence there,” Justice Sequerah added.

He stressed that the whole rationale for requiring Shafee to surrender his passport in the first place was due to the serious nature of the charges faced.

“The possibility of a risk of flight could not be discounted. There is, therefore, an inherent flight risk because of the nature and seriousness of the charges faced,” he said this when dismissing Shafee’s application for the temporary release of his passport.

On Sept 13 last year, Shafee pleaded not guilty to receiving from Najib RM9.5 million, which came from illegal proceeds.

This is Shafee’s third application to have his passport returned temporarily for him to go abroad. However, the prosecution did not object to the previous two applications.

Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz told the court that the prosecution had been instructed to oppose today’s application.

He stressed that the drug case in Australia was only fixed for mention and there is no cogent reason for Shafee to be present there as the latter merely appeared to assist.

He added that Shafee should be treated as a normal accused person and should not be given special treatment just because he is one of the Bar’s member.

Shafee was represented by lawyer Harvinderjit Singh today.