Monday, January 12, 2015

Wings clipped, major refuses to appeal

10:44AM Jan 12, 2015
By Ahmad Fadli KC
Major Zaidi Ahmad has been dismissed from the Air Force after being found guilty of speaking to the media about indelible ink used in the 13th general election without approval from the Armed Forces Council.

He was hauled before the military court last year after he lodged a police report that indelible ink used in the GE could be washed off.

The sentence was delivered by Military Court judge Colonel Saadon Hasnan today.

Saadon said this is considering Zaidi's impeccable record of 26 years and one day in service, without any disciplinary issue.

The court earlier heard that Zaidi is decorated with the Kesatria Angkatan Tentera, an Order of Military Service awarded to those ranked Lieutenant-Colonel and below.

"He has served the Royal Malaysian Air Force for 26 years and also served in Bosnia.

"He has an excellent and impeccable record, and the fact that this is his first offence was considered in the mitigation," Saadon said.

"The issue is not that indelible ink but that he had made a stateent to the media without approval."

The maximum sentence for the offence is two years' jail or dishonourable discharge.

Prosecutor Captain Ross Anuar Aripin had requested the court to consider a stiffer punishment for the pilot as it would serve as a lesson for others.

"We request that the punishment would not just teach a lesson to the convicted, but also to those out there - especially armed forces' members - not to repeat this offence.

"The offence which has been committed by Zaidi is a serious offence to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)," he said.

'He saved my hand from amputation'

Meanwhile, Zaidi called on Ahmad Yusof Ishak as a witness in his mitigation statement.

Ahmad Yusof is a former army officer who was aided by Zaidi in an accident while serving in Bosnia.

According to him, he had been involved in an accident wherein the truck he was driving had toppled over.

Zaidi, who was in the same convoy as him, had helped in transporting him to the hospital via a United Nations helicopter, where the same journey would have taken six hours by ambulance.

Ahmad Yusof added that Zaidi was also influential in being a mediator between him and the doctors, as he was not fluent in English.

This saved his left hand from being amputated and the nerve was instead replaced with a nerve from his thigh.

"Here, I would like to express my gratitude to Major Zaidi on his efficiency and initiative in handling the situation.

"I feel indebted to him and I plead that the court reduces the sentence which has been meted on him," he added.

'I don't regret doing the right thing'

Zaidi is charged with breaching Paragraph 13, No 12 of the Armed Forces Council Instruction.

He is also charged with breaching Paragraph 3 by revealing official communications to the media without prior approval from his superiors.

Zaidi has also previously expressed his frustration that the court decided to continue with the case ahead of a judicial review on the charge, to be heard by the High Court on Feb 5 this year.

Speaking to reporters later, Major Zaidi said he would not appeal against the verdict.

"I accept this as Allah's fate (for me)," he added but his expression failed to conceal his sadness.

Asked if he regretted the decision, the defiant pilot replied: "What is there to regret, I did the right thing."

Expressing disappointment, electoral watchdog group Bersih said this was the price a serviceman has to pay to tell the truth.

"He took this up because of his commitment to the nation.

"He paid a price for speaking up against an election that has many flaws," Bersih treasurer Masjaliza Hamzah said.
~ Malaysiakini

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