Nov 25, 2006

Mahathir's attacker arrived in court in limousine

The couple, Wan Elysya and Nik Sapeia’s bodyguard enjoying the facilities in the car.

(The Star) KOTA BARU: His Porsche’s gear stick had loosened and the road tax for his Pajero had expired. So tycoon Datuk Nik Sapeia Nik Yusof decided to go to the magistrate’s court here in his stretch 7,500cc Cadillac limousine.

It was this gleaming beauty that made heads turn when Nik Sapeia arrived in court on Wednesday to face a charge of causing hurt to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and three others at the Sultan Ismail Petra airport on July 28.

He was alleged to have discharged a dangerous substance through a spraying instrument.

Despite facing trying times, the affable tycoon and his wife Datin Dr Suriani Yahya consented to an interview with The Star at their mansion in Pasir Tumboh here

“A former state CPO said we looked like (former US president) John F. Kennedy and (his wife) Jacqueline,” he quipped.

Nik Sapeia, who has more than 10 luxury cars in his stable, said he wanted to own a Cadillac from the moment he saw former US vice-president Al Gore “grandly” stepping out of one in Kuala Lumpur seven years ago.

Nik Sapeia was introduced to a Cadillac dealer in Thailand in 1999 and bought his dream car for RM1mil.

The licence plate – “Bangkok 2” – is custom-made and a gift from a Thai VIP, he said, adding that he was involved in many charities in Thailand.

“Do you know that it is one of only 40 right-hand drive Cadillac limos in the world?

“A Cadillac model only comes out once every 15 years and it is a prestigious vehicle,” said the proud owner.

The Cadillac, which takes up two and a half lots of normal parking space, is placed in a “secret” underground car park near his home where his prized collection of cars are kept.

The limousine is equipped with a TV set, a drink dispenser and aircraft material shock absorbers.

Nik Sapeia, who made his fortune in fisheries, said he normally used the Cadillac for important business functions in Bangkok and would only occasionally drive it around town here. He has approval to drive the car into Thailand.

The Cadillac is his way of showing that fishermen can also be successful.

“I want to tell everybody that fishermen can become rich,” said the former politician who claims to own the largest fleet of deep-sea trawlers in the region.

The Kelantan-born was educated in St Xavier's Institution in Penang.

He started dabbling in the import-export business with only RM500 and went into other fields before finding his niche in the marine industry.

After the interview, Nik Sapeia and Dr Suriani sportingly posed for photographs beside the Cadillac together with two of their six children Nik Abdul Matin Fawwaz, 14, and Wan Elysya Sapeia, seven.

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