Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Another whistle-blower punished over indelible ink issue


Whistle-blower Major Zaidi Ahmad was found guilty by a military court and sacked. Armed Forces technician Jamal Ibrahim had lodged a police report over the indelible ink together with Major Zaidi. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 28, 2015.

Whistle-blower Major Zaidi Ahmad was found guilty by a military court and sacked. Armed Forces technician Jamal Ibrahim had lodged a police report over the indelible ink together with Major Zaidi. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 28, 2015.
An Armed Forces flight sergeant who lodged a police report along with whistle-blower Major Zaidi Ahmad over the washable indelible ink used in the May 2013 general election has been demoted for breaching Armed Forces protocol, said sources familiar with the case.
The source said the demotion order was issued a few days ago to technician Jamal Ibrahim, who is based at the Butterworth Air Force base, demoting him to the rank of sergeant following Zaidi’s sacking on January 12 after being found guilty of two charges of breaching protocol in revealing problems with the indelible ink.
Zaidi was found guilty by the military court in Kuala Lumpur.
Jamal was charged for breaching the standing order by talking to the media. The source said the punishment was decided after Zaidi’s sacking.
“Zaidi was found guilty and automatically Jamal as well. He was not brought to court but was still punished for the alleged offence,” the source told The Malaysian Insider.
It is understood that Jamal was tried in front of the Commanding Officer of the Butterworth Air Force base.
The source said Jamal was given an option whether to fight his case in the martial court or be tried by the commanding officer and he chose the latter.
The source said that with a "tainted" record following his demotion, Jamal may lose all chances of promotions in the future.
Jamal, who is in his 40s, has served in the Armed Forces for about 20 years and is expected to retire in 2016.
According to the source, Jamal’s salary will also be reduced slightly.
He is unlikely to fight the demotion as he has another year to serve before retirement, the source added.
Zaidi, when contacted by The Malaysian Insider, said he was aware of the punishment meted out to Jamal.
He said he had received a text message from Jamal informing him of the penalty on January 21.
“He was charged for talking to the media. But the only thing he said to the media was that he is a technician at the Butterworth airbase,” he said.
Bersih (The Coalition of Free and Fair Elections) chair Maria Chin Abdullah said the organisation had previously approached Jamal to ask if he needed assistance but he told them he did not want to give prominence to the matter.
“He told us then that he wanted to wait until Major Zaidi’s case was over,” said Maria.
The Malaysian Insider tried to get a comment from the Royal Malaysian Air Force by contacting its media personnel as well as Air Force chief General Datuk Seri Roslan Saad but to no avail. Text messages and calls were not returned.
Jamal, along with Zaidi, who was his superior, and Zaidi's wife Shafinah Abdul Hamid, had lodged police reports on the indelible ink after the May 5, 2013 general election.
Following the police report, Zaidi was transferred out from the base and later faced a military court for going against standing orders issued by the Air Force.
After a year-long court battle, the panel, led by presiding officer Colonel Saadon Hasnan, found Zaidi guilty of breaching two standing orders.
He was found guilty of speaking to the media without the consent of the Defence Ministry and also of sharing confidential information on his transfer order with the media without the consent of the Armed Forces Council under Section 51 of the Armed Forces Act 1972.
Last December 15, the military court rejected Zaidi’s request for a postponement pending a judicial review application, saying the case had dragged on "for so long".
The court had said the authorities had instructed them not to delay the case any longer as much time and money had been spent.
Defence counsel Nasar Khan Mirbas Khan then informed the panel that Zaidi and his defence team would not participate any further in the court martial proceedings as they chose to remain silent.
Zaidi’s previous application to dissolve the panel on the complaint that Saadon had posted an "unfavourable comment" against him had also been rejected.
Col Saadon had allegedly said, using a Facebook account under the name Saadon Tson, that Zaidi should be a rubber tapper if he did not like being in the military.
"Fairness has been compromised. Our client doesn't want the presiding officer on the case to stay," Hanipa Maidin, the defence's leading counsel had said in a news report on November 5.
The panel then handed the matter to the court martial's convening authority, as it was the only body that could decide if the panel should be dissolved.
The authorities decided to retain the panel for the case. – January 28, 2015.
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