Bandar Seri Begawan - An office boy at the Istana Nurul Iman along with an acquaintance pleaded guilty to forging an official Istana Nurul Iman letter intending to cheat and will be sentenced on April 21 while the High Court considers an appropriate punishment.
Ak Ya'akub bin Pg Abu Bakar, aged 40, who has been working at the palace office for 18 years, and an auditor with the Ministry of Defence Rahimah binte Niman, aged 38, forged a letter written on an Istana Nurul Iman letterhead dated February 21, 2012 purportedly written by Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Haji Awang Mohd Nawawi bin Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Haji Awang Mohd Taha to the Secretary of Brunei Darussalam Islamic
Religious Council stating that Ak Ya'akub bin Pg Abu Bakar was entitled to Zakat Asnaf totalling $140,000, thereby intending to cheat.
Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong in the High Court heard that Ak Ya'akub took five sheets of letterheads and two envelopes bearing the logo "Istana Nurul Iman, Negara Brunei Darussalam" from the general office of Pehin Hj Mohd Nawawi, sometime in February 2012.
Ak Ya'akub drafted a letter by hand and sometime between February -6 and 10, at his residence in Kg Perpindahan Lambak Kanan, Ak Ya'akub gave the letter to Rahimah to type. Rahimah brought home the draft letter together with the "Istana Nurul Iman" letterhead.
She printed the letter on the letterhead on her brother's computer at home.
The forged letter stated that Ak Ya'akub application for Zakat Asnaf amounting to $140,000 to pay his debts, daily expenses as well as to cover medical treatment in India was approved.
Rahimah said that Ak Ya'akub had told her that his application for Zakat Asnaf had been approved but no action had been taken. Rahimah said that Ak Ya'akub insisted that she should forge Pehin Hj Mohd Nawawi's signature, which she agreed to do.
Sometime between February 27, 2012 and early March, Rahimah passed the forged letter to Ak Ya'akub.
He then asked Dato Bakar at Istana Nurul Iman to type the recipient of the letter being the Secretary of Brunei Darussalam Islamic Religious Council on the envelope bearing the logo of Istana Nurul Iman which he had taken earlier. Ak Ya'akub told Dato Bakar that it was requested by someone from the Istana.
On March 25, 2012, Ak Ya'akub gave the forged letter together with supporting documents to a religious officer attending a Quran recitation ceremony at Istana Nurul Iman and requested the officer to submit it to the Brunei Darussalam Islamic Religious Council.
The religious officer forwarded the matter to the Secretary of the Council.
On April 5, 2012, Ak Ya'akub was called to the office of Pehin Hj Mohd Nawawi to discuss about the letter allegedly being signed by Pehin Hj Mohd Nawawi and immediately Ak Ya'akub admitted that he had forged and made up that letter himself He was terminated from his position.
In their mitigations in court yesterday, both Ak Ya'akub and Rahimah apologised to His Majesty.
Ak Ya'akub said that he had no choice but to resort to this as he is debt ridden, his Indian Muslim convert wife and their child aged about 10 months old are dependent on him, and he is only left with $48 from his salary.
"I keep owing people to buy milk and pampers, kitchen stuff and medical expenses for my child," he said.
Ak Ya'akub also informed the court in mitigation that he did not try for a proper Islamic Council assistance as it takes time and not guaranteed to be approved.
He also pleaded for His Majesty to have mercy on him.
The court further heard that Ak Ya'akub was worried that if he was taken away from his family, his wife might renounce her Islamic faith.
He also represented Rahimah in his mitigation saying that they regard each other as siblings, she having witnessed his hardship and that he had convinced her so much into committing the offence.
Rahimah, in her mitigation said that she was pushed by Ak Ya'akub.
She said that she had warned him that it was a dangerous thing to do only to be convinced again by him that the matter is settled. The defendants have been remanded pending sentence.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Pg Jasmine Pg Hj Bahrin prosecuted the case.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin