A delegation from Bersih - the NGO for free and fair elections - paid a visit to Air Force officer Major Zaidi Ahmad yesterday to show their support for his recent run-in with the law, resulting in a military trial against him.
Zaidi, 46, claimed trial to seven charges for saying that indelible ink used in the May 5 general election last year, could be easily washed off.
Charges include speaking to the media without authorisation, violating Malaysian Armed Forces Council orders by lodging a police report, and sending text messages on the issue.
The delegation of six which met Zaidi at his home in Kepala Batas included Bersih chairperson Marina Chin, northern region coordinator Toh Kin Woon, Aliran's honorary secretary Anil Netto, student activist Adam Adli and Mustafa Basri from Ikram.
When contacted, Toh (right) said Bersih is mulling a campaign to support Zaidi, to call on people to be in solidarity with him and to urge the military to withdraw charges against him.
Toh said the group has yet to look into details of the campaign but is mulling launching ahead of Zaidi’s trial which resumes from April 8-10.
"We hope the military discontinue their charges against him. All he said was the indelible ink is not indelible. Even the Election Commission has admitted that," Toh said.
"He did not say anything wrong or defamatory. As a citizen who voted, he was merely airing his views. Why should he be hauled up for speaking the truth?
"Zaidi, in a small way, has contributed to free and fair elections in the country," added the former Gerakan Machang Bubuk assemblyperson.
Stands to lose pension
If convicted, Zaidi, 46, stands to lose his pension and long service benefits.
The validity of the indelible ink was questioned following arguments by Pakatan that the failure of the ink would have been sufficient to affect the outcome of GE13, as it could have made it easier for fraudulent voters to cast ballots more than once.
When contacted, Anil (left) said despite his predicament, Zaidi was calm and composed. "He draws strength from support by the public, and has the confidence to see this through."
Anil urged the public to show their support for Zaidi in the Facebook page dedicated to his struggles, which currently boasts about 19,000 likes. “There is a groundswell of support for Zaidi even without much publicity for his page yet.”
Anil reminded that Bersih is also being sued under the Peaceful Assembly Act for alleged damage at the Bersih 3.0 rally on April, 28, 2012.
The government is seeking cost of repairs to police vehicles and other items, amounting to RM122,000, and demanding for a declaration that the rally violated the Act.
Adam, also a Kepala Batas resident, and a member of the Bersih secretariat, also faces four charges - for allegedly ‘rioting’ outside Parliament, allegedly uttering seditious remarks, and two charges under the Peaceful Assembly Act related to the Black 505 rallies.