By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini

The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court allowed Muhyiddin Yassin’s application for a temporary return of his passport so that he could fly to Thailand on Feb 15.

Criminal court judge Azura Alwi this morning greenlit the bid linked to Muhyiddin’s passport, which was impounded pending disposal of the former prime minister’s money laundering case.

On Jan 31, Muhyiddin filed the bid for a temporary passport return so he could go to Bangkok and strengthen friendships and goodwill with acquaintances and attend the opening of a Muslim restaurant called Phrigkiao.

Based on the supporting affidavit, the Perikatan Nasional chairperson explained he wished to embark on the 8-day trip until Feb 23, because his close Malaysian friend seeks for him to officiate the opening of a new Thai restaurant.

However, the prosecution objected to this application as the reason cited by the Pagoh MP is not urgent, among others.

Not a flight risk

During open-court proceedings today, Azura allowed the passport to be temporarily released from today until Feb 23, ruling that Muhyiddin is not a flight risk.

The judge said despite the Thai trip’s reasons not being urgent, the court has wide discretion to allow temporary passport release depending on the circumstances.

“While there are already travel restrictions on the applicant (Muhyiddin), it is not appropriate to prevent him from continuing with his life, as long as he has not been convicted.

“There is no proof that he is a flight risk,” Azura told Muhyiddin’s counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad as well as Deputy Public Prosecutor Nuralis Mat.

On Dec 29 last year, the same court allowed a temporary return of Muhyiddin’s passport from that day until Jan 15 this year, following Azura denying his bid for the permanent return of the travel document.

The Bersatu president faces two money laundering charges of allegedly receiving of RM195 million in illegal monies from Bukhary Equity Sdn Bhd deposited into the party’s bank account.

The 76-year-old also faces another money laundering charge of purportedly receiving RM5 million in unlawful gains.

The lower court is also set to hear Muhyiddin’s application to nullify the three money laundering charges on Feb 15.

On Aug 15 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court discharged and acquitted Muhyiddin of four counts of using his position for bribes amounting to RM232.5 million for the Bersatu party, linked to the Jana Wibawa project.

The Court of Appeal has set Feb 28 and 29 to hear the prosecution’s appeal to reverse Muhyiddin’s acquittal over the four abuse of power charges.