DOUBTFUL EVIDENCE: Case initiated when the then ACA was under Anwar’s responsibility
PUTRAJAYA: FORMER Selangor executive councillor Datuk Saidin Thamby was cleared of a graft charge when the Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed the public prosecutor's appeal against his acquittal by the High Court.
There is no more further appeal as Saidin's case started in the Sessions Court.
Saidin, a former Paya Jaras assemblyman, was charged with taking a RM1 million reward on March 15, 1997, from Nusantara Network Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Dr Hanifah Nordin for helping the company obtain a piece of government land in Batu Caves for development.
The state government had approved Nusantara Network's application on Oct 4, 1995.
Yesterday, a three-man bench, led by Datuk Abdul Malik Ishak, said they had given careful consideration to the submissions by both parties.
In an 88-page judgment, he said slightly more than a year after the RM1 million cheque had been given to Saidin, a prosecution witness, Frankie Lee Kah Hoay, had complained to the then deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The witness had said Saidin failed to issue a receipt and alleged embezzlement of the RM1 million contribution to the Selayang Umno division.
Malik said as the deputy prime minister then, Anwar was tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the then Anti-Corruption Agency, which was instrumental in the arrest and subsequent prosecution of Saidin.
He said Saidin, being an assemblyman, was permitted to carry out trade or business and he was allowed under section 2 (d) of the Contracts Act to receive commissions which was promised to him.
"There is no law which prohibits the respondent (Saidin) from obtaining a commission for helping Nusantara's land application to be approved," he said, adding as an elected representative, Saidin was not in a position of conflict of interest, but merely assisted Nusantara in the land application.
Malik also said the entire story about donations to Umno was not true. Earlier, he said neither the quality of materials produced nor the proper evaluation was sufficient enough to prove the prosecution's case was beyond reasonable doubt.
As such, Malik said the bench was not inclined to record a guilty verdict against Saidin on such slender and doubtful evidence.
"Corruption", he said was an ugly word and easy to allege but required a heavy burden to prove in a court of law.
"Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the High Court and dismiss the appeal of the appellant (public prosecutor) forthwith. We hereby set the respondent free."
In April 2009, High Court Judge Datuk Su Geok Yiam allowed Saidin's appeal against conviction and sentence. In August 2002, the then Sessions Court judge Suraya Othman sentenced Saidin to a year in jail and RM10,000 fine.
She also ordered him to pay a RM1 million penalty to the Federal Government after finding him guilty.