KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — The High Court here today allowed Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s passport to be returned temporarily for him to apply for his diplomatic passport to enable him to carry out his official duties.
However, Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah rejected the deputy prime minister’s application to have his passport returned permanently to him, to enable him to perform his duties.
“This is a request by the prosecution to which I agree that the accused (Ahmad Zahid) is entitled to have his passport returned to him upon application for the purposes of applying for a diplomatic passport, after which the passport ought to be returned to the court.
“The application of the applicant to have his passport released permanently is dismissed,” said the judge.
On Jan 26, Ahmad Zahid filed an application to have his passport returned permanently to him, to enable him to carry out his official duties as deputy prime minister.
The passport was previously surrendered to the court as an additional bail condition after he was charged with 47 charges of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds, of which the proceedings are now at the defence stage.
Justice Sequerah in his decision said Article 8 of the Federal Constitution stipulated that all persons were equal before the law.
“Before the law, there shall be no privilege, person or class be above the law,” he said.
The judge said the court was cognisant of the fact that as deputy prime minister, Ahmad Zahid has official duties to perform, but these duties must not clash with the duty to go to court, because the court also has its functions to perform.
Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Abdul Malik Ayob said the prosecution has no objection to Ahmad Zahid’s application for his passport to be returned permanently to him.
However, he said after the issuance of his diplomatic passport, Ahmad Zahid has to return his personal passport to the court.
Through an affidavit in support of the application, Ahmad Zahid, 70, said that he needed the passport because it was required for his application to obtain a diplomatic passport from the Immigration Department, for official business inside and outside of the country.
“It is appropriate for the court to consider that the approval of the application will bring good and continuity to the administration of Malaysia, which is the responsibility of every citizen in this country,” he said in the affidavit.
Ahmad Zahid’s defence proceedings have been fixed to resume on April 10. The defence has called six witnesses, including Ahmad Zahid himself.
Counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik representing Ahmad Zahid.