Businessman Mohd Akjan Ali, who was closely linked to the 1990s Project M, has ridden out the storm of his controversial coronation as the 'Sultan of Sulu'.
KOTA KINABALU Dec 9, 2011: Self-proclaimed ‘Sultan of Sulu’ Mohd Akjan Ali Muhammad, who was almost a year ago arrested, jailed and then released in quick order, has come a full circle as the 13th general election loom.
Sources here claimed the high-flying businessman, who made good during the era of former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, has repositioned himself in his old role as a power-broker in Sabah politics after the bizarre episode in February this year.
Within Akjan’s grasp, it is said are voters who can be deployed to any of the 60 constituencies to tip the scale in favour of Umno.
Akjan, who is also the chairman of the Sabah chapter of the Islamic Welfare and Sermon Organisation of Malaysia, rode out the storm following his controversial “coronation” as sultan in February.
Following his ‘installation’, Akjan assumed the title ‘Paduka Maulana Al-Sultan Sharif Ali Muhammad Pulalun or Sultan Hashim Shariful-II’ and triggered outraged protests by government and opposition politicians.
Police reports were lodged of his open insult to the state and country and the security implications of the issue.
Police subsequently investigated Akjan, who was then an Umno member, for allegedly committing terrorist acts, an offence which carries a jail term of between seven and 30 years, and also liable to a fine, upon conviction.
Among others, police seized his coronation suit, several documents and cellphones.
Police ordered to return regalia
Earlier this week the magistrate’s court ordered the police to return all his belongings including coronation regalia which were seized by police.
Magistrate Nuruhuda Mohd Yusof allowed Akjan’s application after his counsel P.J Perira informed the court that his client wanted the authorities to return some 32 items which were seized from his residence in Likas eight months ago.
Perira explained that the seizure of the items was wrong and should be returned.
He also said that his client had been unconditionally released from the Karamunsing police station on May 22 after the police did not apply for an extension to his week-long remand.
Akjan was not present in court when the case was heard as he was reportedly attending a Dakwah Islamiah Welfare Organisation (Pekida) meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
It was widely reported that Akjan was allegedly ceremonially installed as the 33rd reigning Sultan of Sulu on Feb 2 this year, complete with oath of allegiance in a private ceremony at Kampung Likas here where several senior present and former government leaders reside.
It was said that the ceremony was witnessed by a group of 60 people, including senior officials of the so-called Sulu sultanate from the Sulu Province in Southern Philippines.
‘A kingmaker in the polls’
Akjan, who was closely associated to the dubious Project M in 1990s which allowed for thousands of illegal immigrants to be registered as citizens in order to restructure the racial balance in Sabah, remains ‘powerful’ despite having resigned from Umno.
Umno has quietly washed its hands off him but its candidates are likely to seek him out come the 13th GE.
Akjan is said to be still immensely powerful with his legion of supporters in the Filipino community.
“He has a ready band of about 300 … lets call them a rapid voter deployment force. They can cast ballots in any of the 60 constituencies in the state,” said a businessman who claims to know Akjan well.
“He is a kingmaker or fixer or whatever you want to call him. He is the answer for any politician who is sitting on the borderline in any constituency and needs votes,” he said.
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