I would have won if someone had betted with me whether the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) “mother of all scandals” had ever been raised or discussed at the second 2014 Cabinet meeting yesterday, especially after the shock double acquittal of two former Transport Ministers in their multiple charges in connection with the scandal.
On Monday, former Transport Minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy walked free from the High Court from cheating charges in connection with the PKFZ scandal, the second former Transport Minister to be acquitted in less than three months in connection with the PKFZ scandal.
But clearly, none in the Cabinet meeting yesterday wanted to rock the boat and everybody prefered to “Let sleeping dogs lie”!
But this irresponsible, craven and cowardly attitude cannot be acceptable to Malaysians who want to see the fulfillment of the Malaysian Dream – a united, harmonious, just, competitive and great plural Malaysia nation built on the principles of tolerance, justice, freedom, integrity and good governance where there is zero tolerance for corruption.
In recent years, other countries whether in ASEAN or Asia have been making great efforts to combat corruption, especially in high political places, but in Malaysia we are doing the reverse – presenting one spectacle after another of those in high political places continuing to enjoy both immunity and impunity for their trespasses and transgressions against the law and the public interest.
I remember that at the Bentong DAP Chinese New Year Open House two years ago, I warned that if Malaysia does not buck up on the anti-corruption front, Indonesia and China may overtake Malaysia before 2020 in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index both in ranking and score.
Unfortunately, my warning has not been taken seriously by Najib, despite the appointment after the 13th General Elections of Datuk Paul Low as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department specially on governance and integrity or by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) despite the mountain of funds and staffing provided by Parliament since its establishment in 2009.
The MACC has yet to shake off its role as a political tool of Barisan Nasional government to persecute and victimize Pakatan Rakyat leaders (and it cannot do so unless there can be satisfactory closure to the despicable murder of Teoh Beng Hock at the MACC hqrs at Shah Alam in July 2009), while its Indonesian counterpart, the Corruption Eradication Commission or Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK) has developed an aura as an “Indonesia hero” spawning the popular Indonesian catchphrase: “In KPK we Trust”.
This is from the online Establishment Post in a report dated 31st December 2013 entitled ‘Indonesian Hero Today: “In KPK We Trust’”:
“While Indonesian police force, courts and judges, political parties, as well as Indonesian parliament labelled as four most corrupt agencies by Transparency International Indonesia, the KPK has shown that law enforcement is possible when done whole-heartedly.
“The showdown of arrest after arrest, which usually done in the “Hallowed Friday” has prove that lawmakers, members of the police force, ministers, politicians, judges, lawyers, attorneys and other public officials — regardless of their gender — can not hide from the mighty KPK’s power.
“In the 2013 alone, KPK has made nine shocking arrests which included Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, former president of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) on charges of bribery in the beef import case…
“Another illustrious suspect arrested by the KPK was Indonesia’s head of energy regulator SKKMigas, Mr. Rudi Rubiandini who was detained on suspicion of accepting a US$400,000 in cash and a BMW motorcycle as bribe from Kernel Oil, a Singapore-based oil company official at his residence.
“Another arrest which shocked the public and sank the hearts of people was that of Mr. Akil Mochtar, who was only appointed as chief justice earlier this year, for allegedly taking almost US$260,000 in cash as bribes from plaintiffs in at least two electoral disputes being heard by the Constitutional Court.
“The latest, and definitely the much awaited arrest was on Banten province’s Governor (and Golkar Party cadre) Ms. Ratu Atut Chosiyah, for her alleged connection with two high-profile corruption cases involving her own brother who was arrested earlier by the KPK, and chief judge Mr. Akil Mochtar.
“No wonder Indonesians sometimes jokingly say, ‘In KPK we trust.’”
This is from Jakarta Globe’s “2013 Year in Review” on “Indonesia’s Fight Against Corruption Gaining Steam But Far From Won”:
“It has, by many measures, been a banner year for Indonesia’s antigraft institution, with the fall of many high-profile individuals this year linked to corruption cases worth hundreds of billions of rupiah…
“The KPK this year arrested some of its most high-profile suspects to date, including former Youth and Sports Minister Andi Alfian Mallarangeng for his alleged involvement in the construction of the Hambalang sports center, and Constitutional Court chief Akil Mochtar in October.
“Officials charged Akil with allegedly accepting bribes to fix the court’s ruling on a regional election dispute in Lebak, Banten, and Gunung Mas, Central Kalimantan.
“Catching him red-handed in his home, investigators confiscated up to Rp 3 billion ($246,000) in cash suspected to be bribes, in addition to confiscating a white Toyota Fortuner car.
“He was dismissed from his post at the Constitutional Court shortly after.
“Akil’s arrest came only less than three months after the KPK arrested another high-ranking official, chief of upstream oil and gas regulator SKKMigas Rudi Rubiandini over allegations of receiving more than $600,000 in bribes from an oil company seeking to win a tender with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.
“The case has seen other high-ranking officials questioned by the KPK, including Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik.
Getting tough on political parties
“This year’s cases build on other big ones of the past few years. In 2010, the KPK named a total of 26 suspects — who were lawmakers in the House of Representatives from 1999-2004 — in a bribery scandal to ensure victory for Miranda Swaray Goeltom as senior deputy governor of Bank Indonesia.
“Roughly a month after arresting then president of the Prosperous Justice Party Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq for his involvement in the beef import quota scandal, the KPK named then Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum in a case in the construction of the Hambalang sports center.
“The KPK also named Mallarangeng, who was former secretary of the Democratic Party, a suspect in the same case in Dec. 2012 and subsequently arrested him in October this year.
“While the KPK has yet to arrest Anas, Luthfi’s case was seen moving at a faster pace, with the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Dec. 9 sentencing him to 16 years in prison and ordering him to pay Rp 1 billion in fines or serve an additional one year in prison for attempting to corrupt Indonesia’s beef-import quota.
“Despite being less than the 18 years in prison and Rp 1.5 billion in fines sought by prosecutors, the sentence was received as a largely strong stance against the foul practice by observers and the public.
“Meanwhile, Luthfi’s close aide, Ahmad Fathanah, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay Rp 1.3 billion worth of fines in the same case.
“Separately, the case of Akil Mochtar, a member of the Golkar Party, has also implicated Banten Governor and former treasurer of the Golkar Party Atut Chosiyah, who was arrested by KPK officials on Dec. 20 for her alleged involvement in paying Rp 1 billion worth of bribes to Akil in the Lebak district election dispute.
“Atut was also charged with corruption in the procurement of health equipment in the South Tangerang district of Banten.
“The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) reportedly uncovered billions of rupiah in inflated or missing funds at the Banten Health Agency and Banten General Affairs Bureau in an independent investigation. The budgets of three projects ballooned by Rp 1.21 billion in 2012 before their approval, the agency said.
“The BPK also found another Rp 1.13 billion worth of undocumented funds in the same year.
“Another party with an official implicated in graft cases is the People’s Conscience Party, whose election campaign team (Bapilu) chairman Bambang W. Soeharto has been questioned by the KPK after his subordinate Lusita Ani Razak was caught while conducting a bribery transaction with Subri, the head of the prosecutors’ office in the Central Lombok subdistrict of Praya.
Cicak vs. Buaya
“Among its biggest suspects to date was the powerful Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, became a testament to the staying power of the tiny cicak (gecko) in the world of the buaya (crocodile).
“The KPK’s case against the two-star police general was indicative of its fight against graft in 2013. The agency overcame a tense standoff with police, indicting Djoko on both corruption and money laundering charges over his involvement in tainted government contracts while running the traffic police.
“The probe quickly widened as investigators uncovered Djoko’s significant wealth, much of it hidden in assets purchased with corruption funds and listed in someone else’s name. The KPK discovered, in total, some Rp 200 billion in graft-tainted assets belonging to Djoko, making him the richest corruption suspect convicted in agency history.
“Djoko was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to return much of his stolen wealth in a verdict that was widely heralded as a landmark moment in the nation’s fight against corruption. When he appealed the verdict, asking for $18 million back from the state and a sentence reduction, the Jakarta High Court slammed Djoko with an additional eight years in prison and increased the fines to Rp 32 billion.
“Additionally, the court also moved to deprive Djoko of his political rights, preventing him both from voting and running in future political events.
“The high-profile arrests and high-value cases uncovered by the KPK this year has inspired praise from both the public and government officials.”
When will the MACC inspire praise from both the public and government officials, earn the status as an icon of a Malaysian hero with Malaysians adopting as a popular catchphrase “In MACC, we Trust”?
The first step towards ensuring that MACC earn and develop the icon of a Malaysian hero where Malaysians can adopt “In MACC, we Trust” as a popular catchphrase in country is for all patriotic Malaysians to demand that those responsible for the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal must be identified and brought to book.
As a first step, Malaysians want to know what MACC can do to ensure that the PKFZ scandal become the test-case of seriousness and commitment of Najib administration and the MACC to root out corruption – in particular to war against “grand corruption”.