I could not believe my eyes when I read the Bernama report in The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
Entitled “Mara Inc to open doors to Melbourne property deal probe”, the report quoted the MARA Inc Chairman Datuk Mohammad Lan Allani and the MARA Inc Chief Executive Officer Datuk Abdul Halim Rahim in a joint statement as saying:
“We welcome any investigation or inquiry in respect to our investment, locally and internationally.
“We will pledge our full cooperation and assistance to the relevant authorities for a fair and transparent investigation on the matter or any other matters in respect of MARA Incorporated Sdn Bhd”.
What impertinence! What impudence!
Probably finding courage from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s assurance that MARA officials named in the Australian newspaper The Age’s expose of the MARA Inc. property scandal are innocent until proven guilty, and the Minister for Rural and Regional Development Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal’s supportive statement that MARA Inc’s property purchase in Australia was in “accordance with procedures” and there was no element of inflated price as reported by The Age, the two key MARA Inc. executives are strutting the world stage claiming total innocence and welcoming “full, fair and transparent” investigation into any corruption scandals.
What Mohammad Lan Allani and Abdul Halim Rahim failed to do was to explain why they had so remiss and negligent in protecting their integrity and reputation in failing to slap The Age with defamation proceedings for naming them in its report about MARA Inc property corruption in Melbourne, which punctured their pretence of innocence!
In fact, Mohd Lan Allani was reported as having told The Age that he was involved in setting up offshore companies in tax havens as “convenient” way of selling property bought by the Malaysian government.
Mohd Lan Allani had not denied that he had made such a statement to The Age, and if so, can be explain when he was assigned the task by the Malaysian government (and by who) to set up offshore companies in tax havens as convenient way of selling property bought by the Malaysian Government?
Was this his secret mission when he was appointed Chairman of MARA Inc, and if so, let him give a full accounting as to the number of offshore companies in tax havens he had set up, and the number and nature of Malaysian government properties which he had sold through this most extraordinary modus operandi of offshore companies in tax haven for a government!
The cheeky and impudent statement by Mohammad Lan Allani and Abdul Halim Rahim is also a slap in the face of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), which claims that it was moving in on MARA even before allegations of corruption in MARA Inc’s purchase of property in Australia became public.
Replying to my query, the MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Mohd Shukri Abdull said in a press statement yesterday that “as soon as receiving information from the public in March 2015, MACC began the process of profiling the individuals and companies involved in the property purchase”.
He said that even before The Age reported about the matter on June 23, the MACC had already deployed its officers to Australia to probe the matter.
MACC is at risk of being perceived by Malaysians as guilty of gross incompetence and inefficiency if after tip-off in March, it still have to sent an officer to Melbourne to investigate MARA Inc property corruption as if fresh from scratch after the publication of The Age expose on Tuesday.
Or is the MACC on a “wild goose’s chase”, as implied by the joint statement by Mohd Lan Allani and Abdul Halim Rahim, which as good as claimed innocence of any impropriety, let alone corruption, money laundering and Australian tax evasion?
This makes a complete mockery of MACC claims that its investigation into MARA property corruption was still ongoing, and asking for co-operation and space to probe the matter.
The MACC, which is asking for parliamentary support for more powers requiring an amendment to the Malaysian Constitution, must realise that its performance in the investigations into the MARA Inc property corruption in Australia is a great disappointment and not impressive at all.
I would consider visiting the MACC headquarters with MPs concerned about MACC’s poor performance in fighting corruption if we can be assured of satisfactory explanation or briefing by the MACC Chief Commissioner.