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Flashback – Zahid's wealth under scrutiny at '98 Umno AGM
Published:  Aug 2, 2017 5:45 AM
Updated: 10:26 AM

The 1998 Umno general assembly was a poignant event.

It was Anwar Ibrahim's last as party's deputy president and deputy prime minister. Two months after the meeting, Dr Mahathir Mohamad had sacked him.

During that period, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was then Umno Youth chief, was known to be aligned to Anwar.

In his speech at the Umno Youth wing assembly, Zahid had raised the issues of nepotism and cronyism, which was aimed at Mahathir and his associates.

According to an Utusan Malaysia news report dated June 19, 1998, he had called on Umno to eradicate this practice.

Zahid mentioned how Sime Bank came close to being shut down due to providing loans amounting up to RM300 million without concrete collateral to certain quarters.

Speaking to reporters later, he declined to name the recipients of the loans before obtaining advice from his lawyers.

He also sidestepped a question on whether Mahathir's son Mokhzani, who was then Umno Youth treasurer, supported the wing's campaign against nepotism and cronyism.

“The answer to that is with him (Mokhzani),” Zahid had replied.

Following his speech, then Raub Umno division vice chief Suhaimi Ibrahim urged Zahid to declare his assets to the prime minister to prove he was not involved in elements of nepotism and cronyism.

Commenting on this, Zahid said his success in the corporate sector was not due to government contracts or privatisation projects.

“My wealth is not stolen, and not acquired through cheating. I have declared everything to the prime minister,” he added.

Zahid said he had acquired his assets when the economy was booming but was unsure as to “how much was left” given the economic downturn at the time.

“I never got any privatisation projects. I never received any government tenders. I also did not benefit from my position as Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) chairperson,” he said.

Zahid also revealed he had declared his assets to Mahathir after winning the Umno Youth chief post in 1996.

“I declared my assets on a voluntary basis a month after holding the post..,” he said.

Two decades later, the political alignments have shifted.

Mahathir and Anwar are now allies in the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan.

Yesterday, the former premier recalled Zahid's asset declaration to him in 1996 and alleged that the latter did not provide a clear answer when quizzed on the “RM230 million” in his bank account.

"When I asked where he obtained the RM230 million in his bank account, his answer was unclear.

"If he can remember, he should explain where such large amount of money came from," he said.

Mahathir has trained his guns on Zahid after the latter, during a speech at an Umno event over the weekend, took a jibe at the former premier's Indian heritage and claimed to have seen his identity card.

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