Duo message of 2014 Budget – Malaysia continues to be land of “heinous crime without criminals” and Ministers enjoy immunity and impunity for Ministerial dereliction of duties

A few hours before the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented his 2014 Budget in Parliament announcing the regressive and controversial 6% Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 2015, the Kuala Lumpur High Court acquitted and discharged former MCA President and Transport Minister Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik for cheating the government over the multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project scandal.

Without going into the details of the case against Liong Sik, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision carries two messages which have a direct bearing on the 2014 Budget, Najib’s National Transformation Plan and the future direction of the Malaysian nation and economy, viz:

  • Malaysia continues to be a land of “heinous crimes without criminals”, with Malaysians victimized by mega corruption and scandals which neither the government nor the anti-corruption agency, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), could do anything to combat when confronted with “grand corruption” involving “big sharks” instead of “ikan bilis” in the Malaysian corruption waters; and
  • Cabinet Ministers are now given a blank cheque to enjoy immunity and impunity for whatever dereliction of duties in the course of official duties, including up to Cabinet level.

The term “heinous crime without criminals” was made famous 30 years ago in the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal – the first mega-scandal in Malaysian history – as though the Prime Minister at the time, Tun Dr. Mahathir conceded the RM2.5 billion BMF scandal was a “heinous crime”, there were no criminals, as no one was charged whether in the criminal or civil courts.

In the past three decades, the sordid phenomenon of “heinous crime without criminals” have worsened by leaps and bounds, with each mega scandal exceeding previous one not only in scale and costs but in immunity and impunity of the perpetrators – and the latest being the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.

But most shocking of all is the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday that the former Transport Minister cannot be held accountable for any mistakes, misleading information or inaccuracies in the preparation of the ministry’s documents on the PKFZ land acquisition as he was not the ministry’s ‘numero uno’ (number one) but only “the transporter”.

The judge, Justice Ahmadi Asnawi said: “If any, the blame should be apportioned wholly and squarely upon the officers of the Transport Ministry who drafted and prepared the same.”

Isn’t this as good as a “blank cheque” for all Ministers that they enjoy immunity and impunity for whatever dereliction of duties in the course of official duties, including up to Cabinet level?

Is this the end of the road in the quest to hold the person or persons responsible for the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal?

In September 2009, Najib announced the setting up of a “Super Task Force” on the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal, headed by then Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan.

What has happened to this PKFZ “Super Task Force” as in the past four years Najib has not released even an iota of news with regard to the activities and findings (if any) of this Super Task Force.

Has the present Chief Secretary Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa taken over this PKFZ “Super Task Force” or has it closed shop and gone defunct?

If the Prime Minister could say nothing about the PKFZ “Super Task Force” although headed by the Chief Secretary, Malaysians cannot have much confidence in the high-level Chief Secretary’s Special Committee on the 2012 Auditor-General’s Report which Najib mentioned in his 2014 Budget.

Over to Najib to break another item of his long list of “elegant silences” as to the outcome of efforts to bring those responsible for the massive PKFZ scandal to account and justice – or is this another example of the failures of Najib’s Government Transformation Programme’s Corruption NKRA to eradicate “grand corruption”?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah