Umno’s Lenggeng Assemblyman Ishak Ismail told the court that then deputy prime minister and finance minister Anwar Ibrahim had once helped him to “expedite” his loan approval for an Ayer Keroh development project.
“He (as Finance Minister) helped me to seek a loan from a finance company for my project worth millions of ringgit.”
“He told the company that I was his friend,” he said, responding to Anwar’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya.
She is representing Anwar, the former parliamentary opposition leader, in a RM100 million defamation lawsuit against Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Anwar filed the suit on March 7, 2008 alleging that Khairy, then Umno Youth deputy chief, had uttered defamatory words and caused the posting on websites, including Malaysiakini.com of a video clip entitled “Anwar and kin no threat”.
Anwar said the defamatory words, among others, meant that he was involved in activities contradictory to Islam, was not of good character and was not fit to hold political or other positions.
Khairy was represented by lawyer Shafee Abdullah.
Latheefa wanted Ishak to say whether Anwar’s action of helping him with the loan was “a criminal offence”.
“There was no wrongdoing. He did not gain anything, I was the one who benefited,” he said.
To a question about Anwar’s sentiments with regards to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Ishak said initially both of them got on very well and Anwar supported Mahathir. However, towards the end of 1998, Anwar became very critical of Mahathir.
Latheefa asked Ishak whether Anwar had ‘bribed’ him to criticise Mahathir. Ishak replied that Anwar had given him “bullets” to be used against Mahathir.
“‘Peluru’ (bullets) is an all-rounder for criticising materials and funds. This was for the purpose of political work,” Ishak explained.
He added that “bantai orang pun kerja politik” (criticising others is part of political work).
Ishak had said in his witness’ statement that Anwar had criticised Mahathir behind closed doors for his policies involving Malays.
“He used to call Mahathir an ‘untrustworthy mamak’,” he said.
Mamak is a term used by other Malays to refer to Indian Muslims.
Latheefa then asked: “Is it (mamak) a rude word to describe a person?”
Ishak: “Depends on the individual, if they find it rude. It’s insulting. It’s a laughable word.”
Ishak also said that Anwar had told him that Mahathir did not like him (Ishak) and that is why he was not chosen to stand in the 1990 General Election.
“The words Anwar used were ‘mamak tu tak mau hang’ (Mahathir does not want you as a candidate),” he said.
However, Ishak said he later found out this was not true from Rais Yatim (then Information, Communication and Culture Minister).
“In the 1995 General Election I was the candidate for the Lenggeng seat,” he said.
“I believe Anwar played a part in helping me,” he replied when asked who chose him as the candidate.
The trial resumes before Judicial Commissioner Azizul Azmi Adnan from December 13 to 16.
Ho Kit Yen@FMT Reporters Online