“Biggest corruption bust ever” more a reflection that MACC has yet to become an independent and professional anti-corruption agency to combat the scourge of corruption which has become a runaway problem tarring the country as “global kleptocracy”

This is the biggest “corruption bust ever” in the nation’s history – RM114million recovered from the top two officials of the Sabah Water Department, including RM53.7mil in cold hard cash that took more than 30 officers 15 hours to count.

Also recovered from the homes and offices of the department’s director and his deputy were nine mostly luxury vehicles, expensive watches, jewellery and 94 high-end handbags.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said the cash – RM45mil seized from the director and RM7.5mil from his deputy – was found stashed inside safes, cupboards, drawers and also a car boot.

Also seized was RM1.18mil in over half-a-dozen foreign currencies.

Among the vehicles seized were a BMW 535i (which costs RM500,000), Mercedes-Benz C300 (RM308,000), Range Rover SE V8 (RM1.1mil), Mazda6 (RM195,000), Volvo XC60 (RM270,000), Lexus ES (RM260,000), Audi A1 (RM180,000) and Ford Ranger (RM112,000) – in all, the cars total some RM3mil in value.

The luxury watches comprised brands like Patek Philippe, Tag Heuer, Rolex, Cartier and Guess while the handbags included Chanel, Burberry, Versace, Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

The two senior state civil officers were arrested by MACC yesterday and remanded for a week for investigations into alleged kickbacks invol­ving RM3.3bil worth of federal infrastructure projects.

The corruption figure may even reach a staggering RM300 million as MACC revealed the amount of money, in cash and from accounts of the suspects, recovered so far did not include the value of properties and possible deposits made overseas.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said MACC will make an effort to get the money back.

MACC is in the process of trying to open five safes at a bank where they expect to recover more cash.

The MACC team also found 127 land titles worth millions of ringgit.

This is the biggest seizure involving civil servants. The most the anti-corruption agency had confiscated in the past was RM10 million.

The Sabah “bust” should have marked the arrival of the MACC to a position where MACC is fully respected by both Malaysians and the world as a fully independent and professional anti-corruption agency to combat the scourge of corruption, which has become a runaway problem tarring the country as a “global kleptocracy”.

Unfortunately this is not the case.

The country is agog at the vast fortune seized by the MACC, but highly sceptical that the MACC has untrammelled powers to combat corruption wherever it occurs without fear or favour, for Malaysians and the world are convinced that if MACC is truly independent, professional and allowed to go after the ill-gotten gains from corruption from the “sharks” in the country “without fear or favour”, the ill-gotten “fortunes” that would be uncovered would dwarf the Sabah’s “seizure” yesterday into insignificance!

Yes, the seizure in Sabah yesterday was the biggest ever in the 49-year history of MACC (including the former Anti-Corruption Agency), but it does not even qualify as a “shark” anti-corruption seizure, considering the gravity of the problem of corruption today when compared to the nation’s founding years.

Proof of the selective nature of the anti-corruption mission of MACC could be seen from the selective and discriminative reporting in the mainstream media, which gave the Sabah seizure front-page headline treatment – “SABAH GRAFT SHOCKER” (New Straits Times); “RM114 mil seized” (The Star); “Rampasan wang rasuah terbesar dalam sejarah – LUAR BIASA” (Utusan Malaysia); “Rampasan terbesar dalam sejarah SPRM” (Berita Harian) – but all four mainstream media totally blacked out the news that the Swiss Attorney-General Office (OAG) was requesting assistance from the Malaysian authorities in its investigations which revealed that US$800 million had been misappropriated from former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International and that fraud was committed on a form of “Ponzi” scheme to cover it up.

Even more shocking was the revelation from the Swiss Attorney-General Office that its January request for mutual assistance in its investigations into the 1MDB scandal is still pending and had not been met after nine long months!

On Monday, the Indonesian press reported that the Indonesian anti-graft agency KPK would follow up on initial reports from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that power plant builder MAXpower had allegedly paid bribes to Indonesian officials to secure government contracts.

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman Alexander Marwata told the press in Jakarta: “We will look at the FBI investigation. If we find the alleged flow of cash to government officials in Indonesia, we will follow up the case”.

What was the response of the MACC when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed civil actions under the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative for the forfeiture of US$1 billion of assets in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland from over US$3 billion international conspiracy of embezzlement, misappropriation and money-laundering of 1MDB funds – the colossal nature of the ill-gotten gains in the 1MDB scandal would have put the MACC seizure in Sabah to shame?

Or is this because the MACC agreed with the UMNO information chief Annuar Musa who had likened the 1MDB financial scandal to problem with “one single branch or fruit” as contrast to the UMNO “tree”, asking “Why should we discuss about one branch or fruit? We are concerned if the tree (UMNO) is dying?”

Does MACC agree that Annuar is gravely mistaken, for the 1MDB crime, which catapulted Malaysia into a “global kleptocracy”, is not problem with one branch or one fruit but the problem of the UMNO tree trunk which is rotten to the core and there is no alternative to chopping down the whole tree unless UMNO is capable of purging and cleansing Malaysia of the international infamy of being a “global kleptocracy” over the 1MDB scandal?

Is Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the entire Cabinet prepared to make this the first item of business when Parliament reconvenes on Oct. 17 by getting the support of all MPs, regardless of party affiliation, to purge and cleanse of Malaysia of the infamy of being dubbed a “global kleptocracy”?

Is the Sabah corruption case a problem of a branch, a fruit or a tree?

Similarly, is the problem of Annuar (as MARA Chairman) with regard to the MARA commercial property scandal in Melbourne, where A$31 million was paid for it when the market price was A$22 million, a problem of a branch, fruit or tree?

MACC should declare its stand and explain why after more than a year, no one had been charged in court in connection with the MARA Melbourne property scandal?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah