Major Zaidi Is Guilty For Telling Malaysia That The Indelible Ink Was Ineffective

While the military court brands him as a convict, Malaysians hail a hero who was brave enough to challenge the system.

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A Week Before Malaysia Went To Polls In GE13, RMAF Officer Major Zaidi Ahmad Casted His Vote In The Early Voting. Noticing That The Indelible Ink On His Finger Washed Off After Mere Hours, He Lodged A Police Report.

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A week before the rest of the country took part in the 13th general election (GE13), the armed forces went to the polls, as is the normal practice in Malaysia. One man, 45-year-old Royal Malaysian Airforce pilot Major Zaidi Ahmad, noticed that the indelible ink that was used to prevent people from casting their votes multiple times, washed off two hours after he had voted. He considered it his public and moral duty to lodge a police report about the ink.

Zaidi, who as a military officer on duty had qualified to vote ahead of the public in the general elections last year, had lodged a police report claiming that the indelible ink used had come off easily when he washed his hands after casting his ballot.

The Pilot With Over 25 Years Of Service Was Quickly Punished For Performing What Many Would Consider A Public And Moral Duty. Instead Of Investigating His Allegations, Major Zaidi Was Quickly Relieved Of His Duties In The Air Force.

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Instead of the Election Commission (EC) and the supplier of the ink being investigated, Zaidi found that he was portrayed as the villain. He was removed from flying duties, relieved of his role as commanding officer of 12 Squadron, transferred from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur with immediate effect, relegated to a desk job, and he will be court martialled.

The Father Of Four Was Grounded To A Desk Job And Even Court-Martialled. He Risked Losing His Job, His Pension And Would Face Two Years Of Prison If Found Guilty.

If convicted, he will lose his pension and be imprisoned for at least two years. That is the penalty for telling the truth, in Malaysia.

After More Than A Year Of Hearing, The Military Court Found Major Zaidi Ahmad Guilty On 12 January

Air Force Major Zaidi Ahmad was today found guilty by a military court of two charges of violating protocol in revealing problems with the indelible ink used in the May 2013 general election.

Presiding officer Kol Saadon Hasnan who chaired the five-member panel handed down the decision after he found Major Zaidi Ahmad guilty of the charges.

His First Charge Was For Making A Media Statement About The Ineffectiveness Of The Indelible Ink Without Approval From The Defence Ministry

Major Zaidi, 48, was charged with making statements on the ink to the media without approval from the Defence Ministry, thus breaching the Armed Forces Council Order. The offence was committed in the Kepala Batas police station on May 1, last year.

Airman Major Zaidi Ahmad, who disclosed that the indelible ink used in the last election washed off easily, is guilty of acting without the military's authorisation, a Military Court ruled today.

The Second Charge Was For Leaking Official Information About His Transfer Letter To The Media Without Approval From The Armed Forces Council

He also faced a charge of broadcasting official information via an "attachment out" signal to the media on his transfer letter without the approval of the Armed Forces Council and was said to have committed the offence in Taman Bertam Indah, Kepala Batas at Penang on May 3.

Among the charges include making statement to the media without the Defence Ministry's authorisation and use of military channels.

Major Zaidi Also Faces Three More Charges For Sending SMSes That Were Political In Nature

The other more charges, for which he has yet to be tried, concern text messages sent out by Zaidi, which are said to contain political undertones.

All These While, Major Zaidi Maintained That He Is Not Guilty

Zaidi, 45, had pleaded not guilty to four counts of violating the orders of the Council of the Armed Forces regarding the use of indelible ink during GE13 last year. Zaidi, who served at the RMAF base in Butterworth, Penang, also pleaded not guilty to three other charges for making press statements without the permission of the Defence Ministry and sending two SMSes that were political in nature.

Throughout The Ordeal, The Soft-Spoken Pilot Received Support From Pahlawan, Bersih And 40 Other NGOs

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40 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have urged the Malaysian Armed Forces Council to drop all seven charges against Major Zaidi Ahmad who lodged a police report on the indelible ink. In a joint statement, the 40 NGOs said that the Election Commission (EC) themselves admitted in media reports on the failure of the indelible ink used during the 13th General Election, and it was also reported by hundreds of voters.

Pahlawan, an NGO representing retired security forces personnel claimed that the armed forces are wrong in charging air force pilot Major Zaidi Ahmad with going against regulations in lodging a police report on indelible ink used in Election 2013. “There is no offence committed by Major Zaidi. It is not logical when an officer is being charged for carrying out his duty in lodging a police report on the indelible ink used,” Pahlawan president Hj Asri Buang said at a press conference.

“Why Was Action Taken Against Major Zaidi, When He Was Speaking For The Sake Of Public Interest? This Is An Injustice That Cannot Be Accepted When We Talk About Democracy,” An April 2014 Statement From The NGOs Read

“The question is, why was action taken against Major Zaidi, when he was speaking for the sake of public interest?” the statement said. “This is an injustice that cannot be accepted when we talk about democracy. Major Zaidi is actually a hero,” it said. The statement also said that of everyone is like Major Zaidi, in being brave to voice his rights, the truth and the fair, surely the country’s administrative system will be less lacking.

Following The Verdict, Military Court Judge Colonel Saadon Hasnan Has Dismissed Major Zaidi From His Duty. This Was After The Prosecutor Requested For A Heavier Punishment To Serve As A Warning For Other Armed Forces Members.

Major Zaidi Ahmad has been dismissed from duty after he was found guilty of speaking to media about indelible ink without Armed Forces Council approval. The sentence was delivered by Military Court judge Colonel Saadon Hasnan.

Earlier prosecutor Captain Ross Anuar Aripin requested the court to consider a heavier punishment to be meted to Zaidi, as it would be lesson for all in the future. “We request that the punishment would not just teach a lesson to the convicted, but also to those out there - especially armed force members - to not repeat this offence.

Major Zaidi Ahmad's Lawyer Said His Only Crime Was For Courageously Speaking Out On Problems With The Electoral Process

Royal Malaysian Air Force Major Zaidi Ahmad's only crime is his courage when he publicly spoke out on problems with the electoral process, said defence lawyer Hanipa Maidin. "His only crime is being courageous. He should not be taken action against, he should be given a medal instead," Hanipa told a military court today in his final submission.

"The indelible ink is not supplied by the military and it does not have power to investigate because the election and the ink are under the Election Commission," Hanipa told the court hearing at the Sungai Besi Royal Malaysian Air Force base today.

The Decision To Prosecute The Whistleblower Has Also Disappointed Malaysians Who Have Been Seen Hailing Him As A Hero, "His Duty Is To Serve And Protect His Country, Now He Is Being Punished For Doing That."

Reactions found on a Low Yat forum sees Malaysian saluting Major Zaidi for his bravery to speak out against the authorities:
"His freedom of speech has won his support from normal citizen but not freedom from the government."

"His duty is to serve and protect his country, now he is being punished for doing that."

"A minute of silence to one brave soul. A major that that brave enough to tell the truth instead following orders without asking any questions."

"When the government is wrong nobody is right."

Major Zaidi Did Not Retreat Even After He Was Pronounced Guilty. When He Was Given A Chance To Address The Military Panel, He Chastised Them For Having A Political Agenda.

After pronouncing Zaidi guilty, the panel allowed him to produce a witness to support his appeal for a lighter sentence and gave him time to address the military panel. Zaidi charged the panel with having a political agenda, and said they were more concerned with "filling their stomachs" than using their heads.

The Court Interrupted His Speech, Forcing Him To Silence, But It Was Not Before He Ended With A Chilling Line That Summed Up His Dismay At The System, "I Have Nothing More To Say. We Will Meet Again In Allah's Court."

This caused the court to interrupt his speech. As he continued speaking, he was stopped again and told to respect the court. This prompted Zaidi to end his speech abruptly, telling the court that he had nothing more to say if he was not allowed the freedom to speak. "I have nothing more to say. Jumpa nanti di mahkamah Allah (meet again in Allah's court)," he said.

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