A Bersih delegation visited Major Zaidi Ahmad to express their support for the air force officer’s predicament as he faces seven charges for going public about the easily washed off ink used in the last general election. Anil Netto reports.
The six-member delegation met Zaidi at his home in Bertam/Kepala Batas yesterday.
Among the battery of charges that Zaidi, 46, faces at a military court trial are speaking to the media without authorisation, violating Malaysian Armed Forces Council orders by lodging a police report, and sending a couple of text messages related to the issue.
If the soft-spoken air force pilot is convicted and sentenced to even a day’s imprisonment, the father of four young children stands to lose his pension and long-service benefits.
The Bersih team who visited Zaidi were able to empathise with his predicament. They know what it is like to face charges. Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee members are being sued under the Peaceful Assembly Act for alleged damages caused at the Bersih 3.0 rally on 28 April 2012.
Apart from the cost of repairs to police vehicles among other items amounting to RM122,000, the government wants general damages, interest and a declaration that the rally violated the Act. About 20 lawyers are representing the 15 Bersih members and they will be faced by five government lawyers.
Among the Bersih delegation was well known student activist Adam Adli, now with the Bersih secretariat, who himself faces four other charges: allegedly ‘rioting’ outside Parliament, allegedly uttering seditious remarks, and two charges under the Peaceful Assembly Act related to the Black 505 rallies. Like Zaidi, Adam Adli’s family lives in Kepala Batas.
On 14 February, a group representing retired servicemen, Pahlawan, reportedly claimed that the armed forces were wrong in charging Zaidi with violating regulations in lodging a police report on the indelible ink.
Despite his predicament, Major Zaidi seemed calm and composed, and appeared to take heart from the outpouring of support from many Malaysians.
All eyes will now be on his trial scheduled for 8-10 April.