Ex-EC deputy was head of Zahid’s special unit for polls analysis, court told

Ida Lim
Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 10, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — The Election Commission’s (EC) former deputy chief Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was the head of a special unit in the deputy prime minister’s office to analyse election data for the ruling party, a witness told the High Court today.

Sabri Said, 48, revealed this while testifying as the 17th prosecution witness against former deputy prime minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in the latter’s corruption trial.

Sabri had worked as an operations officer in the special unit of strategic management in the deputy prime minister’s office from 2014 to 2016, and confirmed today that this special unit was created while Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was deputy prime minister.

Sabri said that this special unit continued to exist during Zahid’s stint as deputy prime minister, with the same functions of carrying out election-related work.

“Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as deputy prime minister also retained the Special Unit (Strategic Management),” Sabri told the High Court today.

Muhyiddin was deputy prime minister from April 2009 until July 2015 when he was still in Umno, while Zahid later held the post from July 2015 until May 2018.

Wan Ahmad had retired from his position of EC deputy chairman in late November 2013, after having served in the EC for 16 years or being involved in four general elections.

Sabri also spoke about Wan Ahmad’s role as the head of the special unit, noting that Wan Ahmad had initially served as a special officer to Muhyiddin.

After Muhyiddin was replaced by Zahid as deputy prime minister, Wan Ahmad was then appointed as Zahid’s special adviser, Sabri said.

Witness Sabri Said attends Zahid Hamidi Trial in Kuala Lumpur High Court on December 10, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

What the special unit does

According to Sabri, the special unit was given the mandate to carry out matters relating to voters registration, analysing electoral boundaries and federal and state voting constituencies, and to monitor the implementation of elections.

Sabri’s own role included the preparation of paperwork and information papers for elections, as well as analysing boundaries for voting areas according to parliament constituencies and racial composition.

“To analyse areas means I will view the past election results according to Parliament constituencies or state constituencies according to needs as ordered by the head of the special unit of strategic management, Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.

“Based on the election results, I will place the status of those election areas whether in Parliament or state constituencies, whether they are in the category of narrow win or win with a huge majority, or narrow loss or loss with a huge majority by the parti kerajaan (ruling party),” Sabri explained, without specifying if the ruling party was Umno or Barisan Nasional.

“In early 2015, I was asked by Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, who is the former Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman, to register a company to help carry out voter registration on the field,” Sabri said, noting that this was due to the special unit’s observation then that over four million eligible Malaysians had yet to register as voters.

This resulted in the formation of TS Consultancy & Resources that was co-owned by Sabri and an individual named Jasni Majid, with the company tasked with helping to register eligible voters with the cooperation of Umno — particularly in areas where BN had won with a thin margin and especially to sign up new Malay voters.

Sabri explained that the special unit headed by Wan Ahmad at its early stages only had one officer namely Sabri and another clerk, with the company TS Consultancy & Resources required to enable additional manpower to carry out the voter registration drive.

Other than Sabri and Jasni, the company had around three other officials, Sabri said.

Sabri had played the role as a liaison between the special unit and the company, and was also appointed by the EC as an assistant registrar of voters that enabled him to register new voters.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 10, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

The RM360,000 via two cheques

Sabri confirmed that TS Consultancy & Resources had received payment of RM100,000 via an August 20, 2015 cheque and a separate payment of RM260,000 via a 2016 cheque from Zahid, with both cheques issued by Zahid’s charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi.

When explaining why he had said the financial assistance to the company came from the deputy prime minister’s office, Sabri said: “This is related to the formation of the special unit itself, the special unit of strategic management is in the deputy prime minister’s office and at that time was carrying out tasks ordered by the deputy prime minister’s office to unit chief Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.”

Noting that such contributions was not part of the deputy prime minister’s office, Sabri however later said Zahid was the one who had ordered his special officer to prepare a RM100,000 cheque which he then signed off before passing it to Wan Ahmad.

Sabri said this was after Wan Ahmad had briefed Zahid that it was getting difficult for the company to carry out voter registration work due to financial restrictions where allocations for its operating budget was not received.

Sabri said TS Consultancy & Resources needed to source for funds as it is not a profit-oriented company and does not have any income of its own.

“We don’t charge any fees for briefings or courses given as those briefings are for government officers,” he said.

As for why the company is not registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) as a firm conducting voter registration, Sabri said this was due to the limited choices that could be selected when registering the firm’s nature of business.

With TS Consultancy & Resources registered yesterday as organising training and courses including for motivation purposes, he explained that the firm holds training or briefing related to “democracy and elections” to election workers from the government.

In this trial where Zahid is facing 47 charges, the prosecution had previously said it would prove that Zahid had misappropriated RM31 million from charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi with a substantial portion allegedly spent on other matters such as personal credit card bills, vehicle insurance and road tax.

The trial before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow, with Sabri expected to be cross-examined.

Related Articles Ex-EC deputy denies RM360k partially used to print Quran, insists all went towards voter registration Firm’s CEO: Zahid issued RM10m cheque as loan after meeting arranged by ‘Datuk K’ Son-in-law: RM1.3m cheque issued to police’s football club after Zahid told of financial woes