KANGAR • Former Malaysian minister Shahidan Kassim pleaded not guilty to a charge of molesting an underage girl yesterday.
The MP for Arau and former Perlis menteri besar arrived at the Kangar Sessions Court in Perlis at 8.20am. He was seen using a walking stick and clad in a dark blazer and sunglasses.
Shahidan was accompanied by his wife, Madam Shamsiah Mohd Yassin, and two unidentified women. Some 50 supporters greeted him upon arrival.
Inside the courtroom, other supporters also greeted him as he took his seat.
He was charged under Section 14(a) of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act, 2017, with physical sexual assault on a child by touching any part of the child's body.
The incident was alleged to have occurred at the open space of Tuanku Syed Putra Stadium in Kangar at about 11.30pm on Oct 20.
Sessions Court judge Johari Hassan granted Shahidan bail of RM25,000 (S$8,300) with two sureties and allowed him to keep his passport.
The former minister in the Prime Minister's Department had been in the news after a report alleging that he had molested a girl aged 15 years and 11 months went viral.
The girl is said to be from a buskers group that he sponsored.
Shahidan, however, denied the allegations and said it was all just a "misunderstanding".
He had also said the police report lodged against him over the case had been withdrawn.
The father of the girl also reportedly stated that the matter had been amicably "settled" and the family had decided that there was no need to "blow it out of proportion".
However, police said investigations must go on and any understanding reached between the girl's family and the politician was not related to the police.
Shahidan, the former chief of Perlis Umno, went to Bukit Aman national police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 30 and was grilled by investigators from 9am till about 4.30pm.
His police statement was recorded by the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division.
If convicted, he faces imprisonment of up to 10 years and whipping. He also risks losing his parliamentary seat.
Shahidan failed to turn up in court last week to face the charges, following which an arrest warrant was issued against him.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, BERNAMA