Thursday, March 6, 2014

Court-martialled RMAF pilot says public support has helped him move forward

BY LOOI SUE-CHERN
MARCH 06, 2014
Military pilot Major Zaidi Ahmad (pic) has been greatly encouraged by the support and offers of help since he revealed three weeks ago that he is being court-martialled for exposing the indelible ink fiasco in Election 2013.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) pilot based in Butterworth, Penang, said he was touched by the kind words and thoughtful gestures from politicians, non-governmental organisations and members of the public.
Many have voiced their disgust and disbelief that a man has been dragged to a military court for being truthful.
"There are also those who are still afraid of giving their support openly, even on Facebook, fearing that it may jeopardise their careers. But I am sure that in their hearts, they are with me too," he said.
"There were people who congratulated me for what I did and gave me their support, well wishes and words of encouragement.
Zaidi told The Malaysian Insider that PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu (Mat Sabu) and Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad of PAS, had also offered help and moral support.
"They asked if my family and I needed any help. I was grateful for the offer but I am doing all right.
"(Sepang MP) Mohamed Hanipa Maidin is now handling my case pro bono," he said.
Zaidi said the only help he asked from Khalid was in promoting his book "Peringatan-peringatan Penting untuk Bakal Jamaah Haji dan Umrah" (Important reminders for those going to perform the Haj).
He said he began writing the book last year after action was taken against him by the air force following the police report he lodged on the faulty indelible ink used in the 13th general election in May.
He planned to sell the book to raise funds for his legal fees and to support his family in the event he loses his job and pension.
"I am planning to write more books, at least two this year,” he said.
"I want to write about the military and my life experience. Hopefully I can meet my target of two books this year," said the fighter jet pilot, who was assigned desk duties in May last year following his police report on the indelible ink.
His wife is a homemaker and they have four children, aged between three and 20.
Zaidi’s book is available through the post for RM15 each. Those who want to buy it can bank the money into his account.
Earlier yesterday, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) launched the "People Support Major Zaidi" campaign on social media to support him ahead of his trial next month.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah also sent a letter to the Malaysian Armed Forces Council, calling for all the charges against Zaidi to be dropped.
Even with his popularity and controversy, Zaidi is not immune to pranks and scams.
He said he was alerted by a friend last weekend of a posting on Facebook that someone was soliciting donations for his legal fees.
"My friend was not sure if the account number stated in the posting was mine but I do not want any irresponsible parties taking advantage of my predicament.
"I posted a reminder on my Facebook page 'Sokong Mejar Zaidi TUDM' (support Major Zaidi RMAF) that I am only taking money from the sales of my book," he said.
Zaidi has also been active on Facebook himself, posting comments on military and various current issues.
Among his recent postings are related to the South China Sea territorial disputes and the water crisis in Selangor.
He said his postings are on current issues, like the present dry weather.
"I related the dry season to Islamic teachings that said if a ruler of a nation is cruel to the people, committing acts like punishing those who had done no wrong and letting the guilty get away free, then Allah will bring disasters like a drought, floods and others.
"We should also take it as a sign from God. So we have to stop all cruelty, correct the wrong and live in the way God and our religion want us to," he said.
Zaidi is facing multiple charges under Section 50 (2) and Section 51 of the Armed Forces Act 1972 in the Military Court. He was charged on February 7.
He is alleged to have issued a media statement on the indelible ink without the Defence Ministry's authorisation and failing to go through proper military channels to voice his grievances when he lodged the police report and spoke to the press on May 1 last year outside the Kepala Batas district police headquarters.
Zaidi is also alleged to have sent two text messages which were political in nature or seditious while on duty at the Butterworth airbase on May 1, 2013.
He is also charged with making a media statement expressing his disappointment over the indelible ink, which was supposed to be investigated through military channels, and with leaking a circular on the indelible ink to the media without obtaining the Armed Forces Council's approval in Taman Bertam Indah, Kepala Batas, on May 3 last year.
In his first interview with The Malaysian Insider last month, he said he did what he did, despite knowing that he might face trouble from his superiors, because he felt compelled as a Muslim to make the police report on the indelible ink. – March 6, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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