Corruption in Sabah Water Department sextupled the “Mr. 10%” epithet six times to “Mr. 60%” – a shocking reflection of increasing gravity of kleptocracy in Malaysia

The country was recently convulsed by reports of the rampant corruption in the Sabah Water Department, especially the revelation that 60 per cent of the RM3.3 billion earmarked by the federal government to improve water supply to residents, including those in remote areas, in the Sabah State, had been “siphoned off” by corruption.

As a result, corruption in the Sabah Water Department sextupled the “Mr. 10%” epithet for the corrupt, increasing six times to “Mr. 60” – a shocking reflection of the gravity of the kleptocracy in Malaysia!

In the past three months, Malaysia made an undesirable descent to a “global kleptocracy”, especially after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) action under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (KARI) on July 20 to forfeit US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland arising from over US$3 billion international embezzlement, misappropriation and money-laundering of 1MDB finds and actions by investigative and regulatory authorities in over half-a-dozen countries, including closure of banks and criminal prosecutions.

Sabah’s Water-Gate Corruption Scandal in October, which started with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) seizure of more than RM114 million in cash and accounts, 19.3 kg of gold jewellery worth about RM3.64 million, some 97 designer ladies handbags worth RM500,000, nine luxury vehicles and some 127 land titles from the Director and Deputy Director of Sabah Water Department, have certified and confirmed the “arrival” of Malaysia as “a land of kleptocracy” in the minds of both the Malaysian and international community.

The “earth-breaking” ceremony for the Impian Sabah Keningau Water Project earlier this evening in Bunga Raya district only 20 km from Keningau (fifth largest township in Sabah) set me thinking as to what could have been achieved for rural Sabah in the past half a century, if the state had good governance instead of “locusts” for the past five decades.

Impian Sabah’s Keningau Water Project is the most ambitious one so far, costing RM250,000 to build gravity-fed water system to bring clean piped water to five villagers, which will benefit some 300 households or 1,500 people.

If 60 per cent of the RM3.3 billion – or some RM2 billion – meant for rural water infrastructure projects had not been stolen by corruption and kleptocracy, it would be able to fund 8,000 projects like Impian Sabah Keningau project to provide gravity-fed water system to bring clean piped water to rural homes for the benefit of 12 million people, i.e. 8,000 x 150 people (some four times of Sabah’s present population).

There is no reason whatsoever why almost every household even in the rural areas in Sabah could not be provided with clean piped water, not just in 2016 but some two decades ago by the nineties, if there is no corruption and kleptocracy in the State.

But rural Sabah must now look to 2050 to get the most basic of rural infrastructure facilities like clean piped water as the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced in his Budget 2017 speech in Parliament on Oct. 21 the abandonment of Vision 2020 and replacement with Transformation Nasional Vision 2050.

I call on the people of Sabah, regardless of race, religion or party politics to demand the UMNO/BN government to explain why it had failed to deliver Vision 2020 to ensure that Malaysia achieve the status of a fully developed state, where even rural households would enjoy the most rural infrastructure facilities like piped water, electricity, roads and basic health care.

Najib was already a senior Cabinet Minister when Vision 2020 was launched by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in 1991.

Najib should explain why the 30-year Vision 2020 had failed under his premiership, when he had promised Malaysians that the 10th Malaysia Plan and his 2016 Budget speech in October last year would be the country’s “final lap” to achieve Vision 2020 as a fully developed state!

Why must the dream of rural Sabah for basic rural infrastructure facilities be postponed for another three decades to 2050?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah