As the week draws to a close, I am struck by three events that occurred earlier in the week that would make every educated Malaysian tear his/her hair out.
The first is the allegation surrounding the award of a contract to supply padi seeds to companies that originally failed the evaluation criteria. Does this sound familiar ? My mind goes back to the Ampang LRT extension where a disqualified tenderer got reinstated, and then won the contract despite not being the lowest bidder. Back to the padi seeds case. Apparently the tender process was well crafted, and three committees from various ministries were created. The advertisement was clear enough: companies need to have the requisite qualifications to submit bids for the RM 164.8 million contract. When the successful tenderers were announced, it became clear that at least one company, linked to a Negeri Sembilan exco member, did not fulfill the original requirements of the tender. When asked about this, the Agriculture Minister Noh Omar sarcastically commented that “….it is suprising that when we introduced the open tender…..there were more protests…”.
The second event was the announcement by Minister in the PM’s department Nazri Aziz that the MACC had investigated the complaint made 4 years ago regarding the Michael Chia case where Chia was apprehended at Hong Kong International Airport and charged with attempting to smuggle out 16 million Singapore dollars in cash. Chia apparently divulged to investigators that the money belonged to the Sabah Chief Minister, Musa Aman. Separately, a news blog also published details of an account said to be Musa Aman’s with Union Bank of Switzerland, Hong Kong branch which showed a considerable amount of deposits with the bank. Nazri said in a reply to an Opposition MP that the subsequent MACC investigation showed no element of corruption and that the money, RM 40 million equivalent, was actually meant for Sabah UMNO. This is rather strange to say the least, for the money apparently was routed through several jurisdictions before ending up in Hong Kong. Who was the rich donor or donors who made the donation to Sabah UMNO ? Does this mean that UMNO is agreeable to receiving donations from abroad after hammering Suaram for being funded by foreign interests ? Did this rich donor or donors win any contracts from the Sabah government ? Furthermore, Musa Aman claimed he did not know of Michael Chia. Why would Chia carry the equivalent of RM 40 million meant for Sabah UMNO if he did not know the Chief Minister who is also the treasurer for Sabah UMNO ? The announcement by Nazri Aziz in Parliament was all the more hypocritical as several days earlier his boss Najib Tun Razak had spoken at a conference of the need to “stamp out corruption at all levels”.
The third event relates to the testimony of a certain former minister when she took the stand in her suit against two PKR representatives for defamation in the well-known cow-and-condo scandal. According to news reports, Shahrizat Jalil railed against news media for sowing the seeds of confusion in the scandal and distorting the initial report of the Auditor-General. Yes, the rakyat probably doesn’t know the difference between the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) and the National Meat and Livestock Corporation, but what we know is that RM 250 million in the form of a soft loan was given for a specific purpose. It was not given to buy condominiums in Bangsar or in Singapore, nor to set up downstream businesses in the form of high-end restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia, nor to set up a chain of supermarkets in Singapore. I would dearly like counsel for the defence to ask Shahrizat where the tens of millions used to set up these businesses came from.
I can’t wait for the week to be over. My head reels from all these happenings that take all of us for fools. I weep for Malaysia.