Will Khaled Nordin go on leave as Mentri Besar like Abdul Latif as Exco member as he cannot be unaware that Abdul Latif’s son was living well beyond his means?

All eyes are now on Johor, not only on the Johor State Assembly which is to meet next Thursday but whether the Johor Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin will go on leave like State Executive Councillor Datuk Abdul Latif Bandi whose son, Ahmad Fauzan and special officer Muhammad Idzuan Jamalluddin had been arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for a multi-million ringgit scandal involving kickbacks in the conversion of bumiputra housing lots to non-bumiputra lots.

This is because Johor was the state which produced the nation’s three foremost champions for public integrity. It will be a sad day if Johor which had produced the nation’s three greatest warriors against corruption should end up as a kleptocratic state like Sabah.

Who are the trio? They were the first and third UMNO Presidents, Datuk Onn Jaafar and his son, Tun Hussein Onn, who was also the third Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Lesser known is Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman, the “third man” in Malaysian history, after Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak.

As recorded in Ooi Kee Beng’s biography of Tun Ismail, “The Reluctant Politician”, Ismail made an important contribution to the nation in the setting up of the Anti-Corruption Agency, the predecessor of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

There is in fact a Tun Ismail Hall in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy (MACA) in memory of Tun Ismail’s commitment to combat corruption.

Ismail led the anti-graft Cabinet Committee, which tabled the motion in Parliament for the setting up of the Anti-Corruption Agency on 12th April 1967. As recounted in Ooi Kee Beng’s biography, this is what Robert Kuok, “sugar king” and a confidante of Ismail, said: “You would say, in Confucian terms, that he was a man who led a very correct life, a man of the highest integrity.”

Should Khaled Nordin go on leave as Mentri Besar like Abdul Latif as Exco member?

There are two considerations here: firstly, the multi-million kickback scandal involving the conversion of bumiputra housing lots to non-bumiputra lots also relates to land issues, which comes directly under the Mentri Besar.

Secondly, Khaled as Mentri Besar cannot be unaware that Abdul Latif’s son was living well beyond his means, and the question is what actions he had taken to inquire from Abdul Latif whether Abdul Fauzan’s disproportionate wealth was related to any official abuse of power or corrupt means.

Admittedly, the seizure of 21 luxury cars, five high performance bikes and RM500,000 in cash, as well as frozen 45 accounts with over RM15.5 million in them, in the Johor land and real-estate scandal is peanuts compared to the Sabah Watergate corruption raids last October, where MACC seized 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.

But is Johor competing with Sabah as the top kleptocratic state in Malaysia?

Surely, Malaysia’s being ridiculed worldwide as a “global kleptocracy” is sufficient shame and infamy for the country!

This is why apart from the emergency motion which the DAP State Assemblyman for Pekan Nenas Yeo Tung Siong has submitted for Thursday’s Johor State Assembly, calling for the formation of a select committee on corruption in Johor, I had urged Khaled to move a special motion at Thursday’s Johor State Assembly to declare corruption as the No. 1 enemy in the state, spell out the anti-corruption initiatives the Johor State Government is taking after the spate of corruption arrests in the state, and most important of all, to demonstrate Johor is not competing with Sabah to be the top kleptocratic state in Malaysia!

Silence and inaction are no options for Khaled as he must speak loud and clear as to what the Johor State Government is doing to fight corruption in the state.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah