IO agrees no offence in indelible ink issue

KUALA LUMPUR: A Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) investigating officer (IO) agreed making media statements that are not military-related is not an offence under the Armed Forces Council Instruction.

Prosecution witness Lt Col Mohammad Rosli Yaakob agreed with defence counsel Mohamed Hanipa Maidin that RMAF officer Major Zaidi Ahmad (pix) did not commit an offence under military regulation since his statements made to the media were "election-related" and about "indelible ink".

"An army officer is only committing an offence if he publishes articles that have any government or military subject.

"(Zaidi's) statements were related to elections; does indelible ink have anything to do with military?" Hanipa asked during cross-examination today at Zaidi's court martial at the RMAF base in Sungai Besi.

Zaidi, 45, had pleaded not guilty to four counts of violating the Malaysian Armed Forces Council's orders on the use of the indelible ink last year.

The officer, from the RMAF base in Butterworth, also pleaded not guilty to three other charges – making a media statement without the authorisation of the Defence Ministry and sending two SMSes which were political in nature.

Mohammad Rosli , the prosecution's fourth witness, said although the statements were not related to military, Zaidi had violated military regulations by giving statements to the media without seeking permission.

However, Hanipa, reading out Paragraph 13, No 12 of the Armed Forces Council Instruction, said the regulation clearly states that an army officer should seek permission from the Defence Ministry to publish any article that contains any information pertaining to government or military or his duties at least two weeks before its release.

"Do you understand the law here? Where is Zaidi's offence? Do you agree with me there is no offence at all here?" he said.

"Of course I understand it; I was the one who investigated the matter. I understand what (para 13 no 12) means. Your question is convoluted!" Mohammad Rosli said.

When RMAF prosecution officer Major Ahmad Sanusi Ali said Mohammad Rosli was the IO for the matter and is not a law expert, court martial presider Col Saadon Hasnan said the defence counsel had asked a "fair question".

"Basically you say that it is against the law; the defence is asking what is the offence and where is it against the law. The witness said that he has read the regulations, so it is a fair question," Saadon said and asked Hanipa to continue. You agreed with me that his statements were about election. If that is so, I am saying there is no offence here unless you are insensitive to the law," Hanapi said.

At that point, Mohammad Rosli agreed with Hanapi that no offence was committed.

During re-examination by second prosecution officer Major Ahmad Azam Soip, Mohammad Rosli said he had asked the video of Zaidi's press conference to be deleted to avoid the video being forwarded to others and tarnishing the RMAF's image.

The other panel members are Lt Col Zainurin Mohd Dom, Major Khuzairi Mohd Arshad, Major Khairul Nizam Taib and Major S. Nadzeer Salehuddin.

The court martial will resume on Sept 2.