|PAS Central Committee member Nik Abduh has apparently said on his Facebook page that party president Hadi Awang personally instructed him to deny that a recording of him confirming PAS payments from UMNO was genuine, even though he himself had wanted to admit that it was true.
Unless this confession is itself denied by Hadi and PAS, then it is yet another admission by one of the party’s most senior figures (and one of the witnesses in Hadi’s case) that the entire litigation waged against Sarawak Report at huge expense to party members was riddled with deceptions.
The change of tune by Nik Abduh represents an astonishing volte face from just last week when he spoke to reporters after being questioned by MACC investigators about the allegations over cash payments from UMNO to PAS in the aftermath of Hadi’s withdrawal of that defamation case against Sarawak Report in London.
Fake Recording With Defamatory Meaning?
Exiting the interrogation Nik Abduh told the media he had repeated to the MACC his original claim of last year, which was that a recording of him admitting PAS took millions from UMNO was a fake and slander against him.
However, Sarawak Report immediately pointed out that, by contrast, Hadi had himself acknowledged the recording was genuine in own his sworn statement to the British court (but had sought to argue that the content was actually harmless).
That contradiction was further admitted and confirmed on Tuesday by the PAS secretary general Takiyuddin Hassan, who said the recording was indeed genuine. It may have been that acknowledgement which triggered Nik Abduh’s decision to come out with what he now says is the ‘truth’.
The Truth Is I Lied, Says Abduh; Because Hadi Told Me To
According to Nik Abduh’s latest explanation on Facebook he had wanted to admit from the beginning that it was his voice on the tape, but that he had been constrained from telling the truth and indeed was instructed to lie about it by the top brass in PAS including Hadi himself.
Nik Abduh says the specific purpose of the lie was to deceive voters and PAS members, who had been troubled before GE14 about concerns that UMNO was wooing PAS with cash, causing the Islamic party to rupture with its opposition allies and change its political alignments positively towards BN. According to a news report:
“Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz revealed that he wanted to come clean on an audio recording of him admitting to PAS receiving funds from Umno, but the Islamist party’s leaders felt otherwise since the last general election was around the corner.
Therefore, the PAS central committee member said he relented since the issue was greater than him.
He also disclosed that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had given his blessings for a denial to be issued….
“When I referred to several party leaders who understood the issue well, they decided that I should deny (the recording). I fiercely refused and objected, but they insisted.
“‘Slander must be stopped’ was their reason (as) the heat of the 14th general election increased. Pakatan Harapan had been attacking PAS with all sorts of slander.
“Faced with a conundrum, I sought an answer from the PAS president. He immediately consented to the decision that I deny (the recording). I followed, and was happy to receive a mandate,” he added in a Facebook post today.” [Malaysiakini]
This quite staggering admission by Nik Abduh that the hierachy of the party had conspired in an orchestrated deceit was accompanied by a further change of his story. Nik Abduh admitted that, contrary to what he had told the reporters last week, he had in fact informed the MACC investigators the truth about the recording and that it was him during his interview.
That makes a second deceit that Nik Abduh has now apparently admitted to in this Facebook confession.
Sarawak Report has applied to PAS for a response to the alleged claim by this senior PAS official that senior figures, including the president of the party, told him to lie about the recording in order to deceive voters at the general election.
We note that at no point in his sworn testimony to the London court nor in his disclosure on the case did the PAS president admit that he had told his witness to lie about the recording, which formed part of the evidence submitted by Sarawak Report.
“Slander Must Be Stopped”
Continuing the lengthy posting, Nik Abduh then elaborated that whilst he had agreed to lie about the recording in his original statements on Facebook, he had told his colleagues he would tell the truth either if questioned in a court of law or if he was investigated by the police and MACC.
One need only imagine the chaos that would have caused in the witness stand in London, as the PAS president and his own star witness started contradicting themselves and each other under questioning. The reasons behind Hadi’s decision to pull out of the court case are clear to see.
Defamatory or Not Defamatory?
Readers and listeners can decide for themselves if the recording was defamatory. Nik Abduh is quoted saying:
“Tok Guru Nik Aziz took UMNO’s money, Tok Guru Haji Hadi took UMNO’s money, I took UMNO’s money, everyone took UMNO’s money. Among the reasons why we succeeded was with UMNO’s help. UMNO helped us to achieve victory”
….I met with Hadi, Hadi said it was fortunate for us to get Umno funds, and we can do anything with it, just don’t use it for personal gain or to enrich oneself. Use it for Islam, he had said.”
(among other admissions).
Despite saying the recording was not defamatory, Hadi had made very clear in his sworn statement to the court that accepting secret cash from UMNO directly for party political purposes was regarded by himself and Islam as a corrupt act and that to accuse PAS of doing so was highly defamatory:
“The final aspect of the PAS policy in relation to gifts or grants from the UMNO-led government, or from members or supporters of political parties other than PAS was that it was strictly forbidden, and contrary to Islam, for the party or for party members or officials to accept for their personal benefit covert payments of significant sums of money offered by way of political bribes, such as the sums referred to in the words complained of and alleged in the Amended Defence. That policy has remained firm and consistent under the Claimant.” [Hadi Sworn Statement]
On the other hand, Hadi acknowledged that political corruption under UMNO created a ‘dilemma’ for PAS, causing the party to have to tread a careful path over accepting benefits, but making it acceptable to receive grants that benefited the party, such as to PAS owned schools:
PAS ‘dilemma’ read more from Hadi’s sworn statement
86.1. For many years, as pleaded by the Defendant, there has been a perception of corruption in Malaysian politics and political life. UMNO had been part of the governing coalition in Malaysia since the 1950s and was in many respects synonymous with the federal government. One of the consequences of this was that financial assistance, grants or aid from the federal government could be perceived as gifts from UMNO. This created a dilemma for PAS members or supporters, as to whether the receipt of such financial assistance from the federal government was permissible in Islam, or amounted to impermissible corruption.
Equally problematic was the receipt of charitable donations from private individuals towards religious or charitable projects run by PAS members or supporters. Given the dominance of UMNO in political life, and given that UMNO was a largely Malay and Muslim party whose members and supporters would likely share charitable aims with the members and supporters of PAS, it was inevitable that PAS members or supporters would potentially be in receipt of such donations from UMNO members or supporters. Further, as the Bersih Report cited by the Defendant points out, political parties, particularly UMNO, had a habit of publicly handing out small gifts in cash or kind to voters, especially at around election time, and during election rallies. That created a further dilemma for the PAS member or supporter as to whether it was permissible in Islam to accept such gifts.
86.3. It had long been the policy of PAS, as determined by the PAS Council of Scholars, that the acceptance of government grants was permissible, as long as the recipient was properly entitled to the funding in question. Similarly the PAS Council of Scholars had determined that the acceptance of charitable donations from individuals connected to political parties or small gifts from political parties were permissible for PAS members or supporters to accept, as long as they did not allow the receipt of such funds to influence their choice of vote….
.. The final aspect of the PAS policy in relation to gifts or grants from the UMNO-led government, or from members or supporters of political parties other than PAS was that it was strictly forbidden, and contrary to Islam, for the party or for party members or officials to accept for their personal benefit covert payments of significant sums of money offered by way of political bribes, such as the sums referred to in the words complained of and alleged in the Amended Defence. That policy has remained firm and consistent under the Claimant.
Click for Hadi’s sworn statement in total
Hadi Now Also Admits to deliberately deceiving the court
Staggeringly, it is not just Nik Abduh who has spoken out in the past days and hours to completely undermine PAS’s original court case and the integrity of the party. Hadi did so himself in a statement the president made to a news conference as reported on Friday by the News Straits Times.
Justifying his decision to drop his multi-million ringgit litigation, just before he was due to come before the court, Hadi admitted what Sarawak Report has always argued as part of its defence, which was this defamation claim had never been a genuine case about his personal reputation (as alleged in the London writ) but about protecting PAS.
Crucially, Hadi confirmed he had only filed the writ under his own name because a political party cannot sue, meaning his case was deceitful from the start:
“We feel that there is no need to waste the court’s time and we acted on the advice from our lawyers because we wanted to carry on with other things.
“More so, the laws in Britain were different from our laws where the case must be brought by individuals and not a party, but the allegations were made against the party.
“We cannot file the case under the party’s name. This in itself is already something different. When we view this we saw that this was already a moral victory for us. As such, we did not proceed with the defamation suit.”
Hadi is incorrect, because PAS legal figures had warned the party leadership that, like in Britain, a political party in Malaysia has no locus standi to bring a case. Sarawak Report is informed that this was the advice given to PAS after the party originally considered whether to sue senior former leaders like Husam Musa in KL, who had made far more direct and damning accusations about the party receiving cash than Sarawak Report’s single observation in 2016.
By finally admitting that he had brought the case in his own name rather than in the name of PAS, purely to get around the fact that PAS could not sue, Hadi has openly acknowledged that he set out to deceive the British court, in a country where litigators had less knowledge of the political background to the case.
Hadi cynically denied it when Sarawak Report contested that the article plainly did not referr to Hadi, whose name was not even cited. Instead, his lawyers adamantly argued that people reading the article would assume it meant that Najib had given money personally to Hadi, thereby defaming him.
To further the deceit during the conduct of the case, bloggers working on PAS’s behalf (including the notorious fantasist ‘RPK’ whose brother Raja Idris Kamarudin was Hadi’s agent and had access to privileged materials in the case) took up the chant, alleging over and over that Sarawak Report had identified Hadi and falsely quoting the article as having said “Najib gave Hadi RM90million”.
Now Hadi has admitted they just framed the case and by some strange logic calls it a “moral victory”.
If Hadi had admitted what he admits now, that he had filed the case merely as a front for PAS, before the trial, then his entire case would have collapsed. Yet, right up until he pulled out of the action the PAS president and his lawyers had maintained the deceitful argument against all challenges.
Indeed, when Sarawak Report had sought during case management (just before the election) to gain a preliminary hearing on that very point of meaning and reference, in order to achieve a far shorter and faster judgement at far less expense to all concerned, Hadi’s lawyers refused to agree.
In fact, they threatened the judge that if they lost on that matter they would expensively appeal his ruling anyway, leading the judge to decide that it would be more economical in the end for all concerned to have a full trial based on all the aspects of the defence at the same time.
Deceitfully, PAS leaders then publicised that ruling as if the judgement meant they had won 90% of the case already, even though none of the matters had yet been heard.
PAS complains that Sarawak Report is ‘not behaving well’
Similar patterns of deceit have been evidenced by PAS throughout this case and yet on Wednesday the Vice President of the party had the cheek to complain that it was Sarawak Report that was ‘not behaving properly’, alleging we have no right to continue commenting on the case his party brought against this blog.
Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah apparently thinks that following Hadi’s decision to drop his case Sarawak Report should be obliged to stop reporting on the case and the matter of cash paid by UMNO to PAS.
This is yet another example of misleading falsehoods uttered by PAS party leaders, since the out of court settlement in no way obliges Sarawak Report to curtail its remarks on any of these subjects. Indeed, the original article complained of has remained online without a single retraction, apology or damages being obtained from this site.
Another tangled web of contradictions has involved PAS’s statements about the RM2.5 million that Sarawak Report alleged were deposited by an agent for UMNO treasurer Salleh Keruak in PAS accounts.
Several PAS spokesmen, including Hadi, publicly insisted that this cash ‘donation’ had not arrived from UMNO. However, in his sworn statement to the court Hadi said that he didn’t in fact know where the money came from, tacitly admitting therefore the source could have been UMNO after all.
The onus is on PAS to publish its accounts and noone else
Having run from a court case that was cynically designed to shut up honest coverage of the existing widespread concern about perceived payments from UMNO before the last election, PAS are now claiming it is for others to prove the sources of their party funding. No, it is not.
Observers like Sarawak Report have now proved all they need to prove, which is our right to comment on the widespread concerns and evidence that the Islamic party was being seduced by secret cash payments from UMNO. The then opposition leader Dr Mahathir had proclaimed in public for example his own concern about the flow of ‘dedak’. It was a matter of public and political interest and at the time of the article in 2016 concerned crtics of the situation were saying they calculated as much as RM90 million had travelled into PAS by various means. The same people can now be publicly heard citing higher amounts.
If PAS still claims it was not receiving cash like all of UMNOs other political allies then there is a plain route to putting an end to all such speculation, which is to practice the proper transparency that is required of all political parties in properly run democracies. They should open their accounts and detail exactly from whence their spending came.
Furthermore, if PAS is so concerned about its reputation in this regard, they would do well to stop cosying up to a political party that has been exposed for stealing huge sums of money to use as a political and personal slush fund, passing enormous payments to allied parties during GE13, namely UMNO
After all, people judge you by the company you keep.
Instead of providing transparency however, Hadi in his court evidence fell back on relying on the lamentable lack of regulation of political funding in Malaysia to keep all such matters hidden.
Claiming he didn’t know where the RM2.5 million came (after having told PAS followers he did) he excused himself by saying PAS was not breaking the law by accepting anonymous cash donations of millions of ringgit:
Neither the Claimant nor PAS are aware of the identity of the person who paid this sum of money into the account, nor the ultimate source of the donation. As stated above, PAS had launched a public appeal for donations publicising the account details into which donations should be paid. There is no way of determining the source of cash donations if the donor does not disclose his or her identity. Under Malaysian law, political funding is unregulated and there is no requirement to record the source of funds donated to political parties. [Sworn statement to the court]
In which case, why was Hadi accusing Sarawak Report of defamation and slander? They are even some who claim it was not a crime to receive money from UMNO under the system that exists. Does that make it right?
PAS has now admitted to being willing to accept millions in cash that could have come from any sort of unsavoury source, without supposedly knowing who the source was or why they want to pay the money. In fact, the indications are the MACC do believe that even under existing law, for UMNO to secretly pass cash to PAS does constitute a crime and that they will pursue the evidence.
Sarawak Report maintains therefore, that it performed a public service in raising all these matters and has proved its right to comment and continue to comment on a matter of public concern where PAS’s changing stories have become a national embarrassment.
That public service is proven by PAS dropping a case it had decided it could not win and Sarawak Report is under no obligation to provide further evidence on the case to PAS or anyone else.
Further evidence of cash transfers will, however, be submitted to the appropriate quarters.