Who is Zahid? Do we have a criminal as a new Home Minister?

I thank Malaysians who have expressed their outrage at the arrogance and cockiness of the new Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was shown on television on Tuesday questioning: “Who is Lim Kit Siang? I don’t know who he is.”

What is important is not “Who is Lim Kit Siang” but “Who is Ahmad Zahid Hamidi” who has become the new Home Minister.

This has become particularly important following the call by the Chairman of the DAP Legal Bureau and MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo, to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to suspend Zahid from the Cabinet to prove the Prime Minister is serious about government reform.

Gobind has told the Prime Minister that it is “improper” to put a man who has been ordered to answer a civil suit for assault to be in charge of the powerful home ministry where his actions and conduct could invite conflict, which would reflect on his Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

What is Najib’s response to Gobind’s contention that putting Zahid in charge of the Home Ministry, which is responsible for the police, is to create a position of conflict as the Home Ministry is one of the most powerful ministries, with significant influence over various bodies including the police and prisons.

Ahmad Zahid had been sued by businessman Amir Abdullah Bazli for allegedly punching him in the eye on January 16, 2006 at the Country Heights recreational club in Kajang, Selangor causing the latter to suffer a nasal bone fracture and a swollen left eye.

Then a deputy information minister, Ahmad Zahid had denied the allegation and applied to the Kuala Lumpur High Court for the case to be thrown out. The application was dismissed by the same court on April 21, 2010.

He later filed a countersuit against the 41-year-old, claiming to have suffered humiliation and emotional trauma as a result of the accusation.

But last year, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled against Zahid’s bid to strike out the assault suit and ordered the minister to pay RM5,000 in costs. It also ordered Zahid to respond to the action.

A response from Najib to Gobind’s query is in order, especially as he is the first Prime Minister to specifically appoint a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to be specifically responsible for “integrity” and “good governance”.

Najib should specifically explain whether he knew of the serious allegations of assault against Zahid when the latter was deputy information minister, and whether the Prime Minister had inquired why the police had not charged Zahid for criminal assault in 2006, and the answers that he received.

Paul Low, who is the Minister with the specific briefs of “integrity” and “good governance” should also declare whether he agrees that Zahid should stand down as Home Minister until he has fully cleared himself of the serious charges of assault going back to January 2006 when he was deputy information minister.

The case raises the pertinent question why Zahid had not been charged by the Police for the criminal offence of assault.

This raises the further question whether Malaysia has a criminal as the new Home Minister.

Is Zahid or Najib prepared to answer this issue, on Zahid’s suitability as Home Minister with the serious allegation of criminal assault hanging over Zahid when he was deputy information minister and the failure of the police then to charge Zahid, on the first working day of Parliament on June 26?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah