KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — The High Court here today sentenced former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad to a total of 54 years in prison and a fine of RM15.45 million, in default 18 years’ jail, after finding him guilty of nine counts of corruption involving RM3 million over the agency’s purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak.
The former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar was sentenced to six years’ jail on each count of the charges.
However, Mohd Isa, 71, only has to serve six years in prison after Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ordered the prison sentences to be served concurrently.
Judge Mohd Nazlan, when handing down the sentence, said it was a lesson for the accused, and also to deter others from committing a similar offence.
“The court took note of the accused’s background and administrative record, as well as his involvement in the country’s politics, where the accused had served as a menteri besar for two decades and also as a cabinet minister.
“Corruption-related offences are serious and threaten the country’s economy and are a cancer that affects the country’s democratic system.
“Therefore, the court sentenced the accused to six years imprisonment on each charge, to be served concurrently.
“The court also imposed a fine of five times the amount of bribes for each charge which amounted to RM15.45 million and if he failed to pay the fine, to be jailed two years for each charge,” added the judge.
Judge Mohd Nazlan allowed Mohd Isa’s application for a stay of the execution of the jail sentence and fine pending the disposal of his appeal at the Court of Appeal.
The judge said the court was satisfied that Mohd Isa had succeeded in establishing special circumstances for the stay application to be allowed.
“The court increases the bail amount from RM800,000 to RM1.5 million, whereby the accused has to pay RM700,000 by 2 pm tomorrow.
“The accused is also required to report himself at the nearest police station on the first day of every month until the disposal of the appeal,” said the judge.
Earlier, lawyer Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, representing Mohd Isa, said if the execution of the sentence took effect today, his client would be detained in prison pending the appeal.
“Therefore, my client’s appeal will be in vain (if the appeal is allowed),” he said.
On the fine, the lawyer said the amount to be paid was huge, although not as much as in the case of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak involving SRC International Sdn Bhd fund, who was fined RM210 million.
“If the court wants to increase the bail amount, it is hoped that it does not exceed RM1 million because my client needs to ask for help from friends and relatives.
“Besides that, we are also applying for the new bail to be paid in instalments,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz said the accused did not show special circumstances for a stay of his sentence.
“(The prosecution) request for the application to stay the sentence to be dismissed and the accused to serve the jail sentence from today,” he said.
Prior to that, during mitigation, Salehuddin applied for the jail sentence on his client to run concurrently.
He said Mohd Isa had been involved in politics for 33 years and served as Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan for 22 years from 1982 to 2004.
“At the federal level, he was appointed as the Minister of Federal Territories for two years from 2004 to 2005. He was also Jempol Member of Parliament in 2004 to 2008 and 2013 to 2018,” he added.
Salehuddin said Mohd Isa also had heart problems and was treated at the National Heart Institute (IJN) in 2018 and now relied on medicine, as well as had to go for follow-up treatment every two months at the heart institute.
“The accused has no previous record and this is his first offence. He also never asked for bribes (RM3 million) from SP16 Ikhwan Zaidel (former board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd (GAPSB),” he said.
The lawyer argued that the amount involved in the case was only RM3.09 million, compared with the SRC International case made against Najib, which was RM42 million.
“In the SRC case, the court imposed 12 years imprisonment for the charges against Najib and a fine of RM210 million, in default 12 years’ jail,” he said, and appealed to the court to take into account the amount involved in his client’s case.
Meanwhile, Afzainizam, requested the court to impose 12 years’ jail on each count and fine of RM15.45 million as provided under Section 16 (a) (A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act.
“The accused did not show remorse, like returning the money to Felda. In this case, the amount of RM3.09 million is a fact where corruption is a disease or cancer in the society.
“The punishment to be imposed should reflect how much the community hates corruption. It cannot be denied that the accused has made many contributions, politically, and to the society, but the court should consider the number of time the offence was committed and the amount involved,” he added.
Salehuddin then got up and said how would his client show remorse when he did no wrong.
“If the accused shows remorse, it is feared that it will affect his appeal before two other courts, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
“If my client shows remorse or says he regrets his action, it indirectly shows that he admitted doing it,” he said, adding that at his present age, even a month in jail could be destructive to his life.
Mohd Isa was charged with nine counts of dishonestly receiving gratification for himself, in cash totalling RM3,090,000 from Ikhwan Zaidel, who is a board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd (GAPSB), through his former special political officer Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, as gratification for helping to approve the purchase of the hotel by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) for RM160 million.
All the offences were alleged committed at Level 49, Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC near here between July 21, 2014, and Dec 11, 2015.
The charges were framed under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law, which provides a jail term of not exceeding 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.