‘Cattlegate’: For BN, business as usual

By Mariam Mokhtar | Nov 14, 2011

Hey diddle diddle,
The MP on the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
Khairy laughed to see such sport,
And Noh cow-ed like a buffoon

‘Cattlegate’ has exposed the Women Family and Community Development Minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s ill-advised foray into the cattle business.

Shahrizat and her family are alleged to have misappropriated the taxpayers’ money; with RM250 million for the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), an RM800,000 overseas junket and a further RM10 million to purchase a luxury condominium in Bangsar.

Shahrizat’s husband operates the NFC and her three children, Izran, 27, Izmir, 31, and Izzana, 25 are chief executive and executive directors.

Malaysians who believe that either she or Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, would accept responsibility and resign over this sordid affair, can moo till the cows come home. At least President Nixon was more honourable in Watergate.

Before leaving for Saudi Arabia, Najib refuted allegations that the NFC had misused public funds. On his return, the PM swopped his desert whites for more casual beach gear as he headed for Hawaii to attend the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

The opposition accuses Najib of spending too much time abroad and neglecting business at home. With such criticism, is it any wonder that he prefers to be overseas? His next stop is Bali for the East Asia Conference.

The onerous task of calming public outrage was handed to Najib’s deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin (left).

Perhaps Najib thought that this would distract Muhyiddin from plotting to oust him in GE-13.

Muhyiddin was the Agriculture Minister when the NFC project was first approved and he found “nothing unusual” about the controversial project.

He is right. He confirmed our long-held suspicions that BN politicians think there is “nothing unusual” when they and their cronies misuse public funds for their own ends.

‘NFC a success’

But BN ministers also excel in passing the buck. Muhyiddin deflected further criticism by redirecting questions to the current Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister, Noh Omar.

The hapless agriculture minister, cowed by the burden of having to massage the truth, declared in Parliament that the NFC project was a success and had achieved its target of producing 8,000 head of cattle by 2010. Perhaps he was suffering from foot and mouth disease.

If Ministers actually read any of the reports in their in-tray or paid attention in Parliament, they might be more knowledgeable.

The Auditor-General’s Report, released the previous week, criticised the NFC project for being “in a mess” and for failing in its objective.

Land grabs are Umno/BN’s speciality. So, if the Menteri Besar of Negri Sembilan had been forced to recover 3,000 acres of the 5,000 acres allocated for the NFC, then this project must have been a total disaster.

The ‘udder’ failure of Najib’s administration to instill public confidence is possibly because it has not ‘herd’ about responsibility or accountability.

With our long list of political scandals, the MACC should have had ample experience ruminating over the ease with which BN politicians treat the treasury as their personal cash cow. Not so. MACC is still chewing the cud.

Perhaps, MACC staff are like tired cows who are all milked out.

Mysterious cases of people flying out of buildings have gone over their heads, just like the nursery rhyme in which the cow jumped over the moon.

Shahrizat’s NFC debacle is not the first, nor last, misuse of the public purse. The taxpayer is owed billions but Shahrizat’s case is probably the tip of the iceberg and her amounts, mere cattle-fodder.

Most of us would balk at stealing, but BN ministers and their cronies act like the other farm animal, with its nose constantly in the trough.

Stampede of allegations

With the stampede of allegations coming from the opposition, Shahrizat tried to distract the public by turning on Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin: “I see it as a political agenda, an attempt by the Opposition to weaken the spirit of Wanita Umno. We are not that easy to be destroyed (sic) nor are we that soft”.

For BN, when all else fails, use sex or sexist remarks.

BN is like a family-run business and outsiders are not allowed. Shahrizat may recall that she lost her seat in the 2008 elections when she was trounced by political newcomer, the 27-year-old Nurul Izzah Anwar (right).

The PM at the time, Badawi, appointed Shahrizat as special adviser. Najib later reinstated her as minister, using a loophole, by making her a senator the day before. In other words, Shahrizat’s ministerialship was via the back door.

There seems to be a lot of “back-door-action” in Umno.

Last week, Idris Jala, yet another unelected minister, announced that Malaysia would achieve high-income status by 2020. He said: “Malaysia is doing everything it can to transform itself into a high-income nation. With the programmes and policy measures (Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), I am sure we will not go bankrupt.”

Only last year, Jala warned us that we would go bankrupt if we did not curb our spending.

He may be beefing up our confidence but why make himself a laughing stock? Is he suffering from mad-cow disease?

Malaysia would not go through a recession because of the financial turmoil in Europe, he said: “…..our government will not allow that to happen……..We should borrow money provided the money is spent as investment rather than as operating expenditure”.

Shahrizat took his advice.

She bought a RM10 million condominium for her family because Jala had said: “…. make sure our borrowing is in proportion to investment”.

Herd mentality

The herd mentality is remarkable in the BN Cabinet. They have been relatively and collectively silent about this fiasco.

Only Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has been strangely vocal, acting as Shahrizat’s unofficial spokesman. But he appeared to be like a bull in a china shop.

He charged that the NFC’s account was strictly monitored by a technical committee and instead of the money “lying idle”, had the right to “invest” the funds in a condominium. He blamed the government for various delays, for failing to build a slaughterhouse and for allocating insufficient funds to operate the satellite farms.

He said, “When these delays happened, the NFC management was faced with an important decision.

“Were they to let the funds given to the National Livestock and Meat Corporation (NLMC is NFC’s subsidiary) just sit in a current account which does not give big dividends while waiting for the satellite farms and the abattoirs?

“Or should they invest the money to get returns while waiting for the delay to be resolved?”

Khairy’s explanation is as illogical as Noh’s statement which said that the government was powerless to act: “If the money has been paid to NFC…….. the government cannot control what NFC does with it, including purchasing the said condominium, because it is then considered the company’s money.”

It is ironic that Khairy (right) refuted Pakatan’s allegations in his blog entry titled, “PKR’s load of bull”. Khairy subconsciously failed to note the simile in his statements.

A few days ago, former PM Mahathir Mohamad said that people should adopt the Japanese work ethos, and feel ashamed if they were unable to carry out their job properly.

He said: “This sense of shame is so strong that they (Japanese) cannot accept failure and they are ashamed of it”.

BN and their cronies do not know the meaning of shame. If they did, they would do the honourable thing, just like the Japanese. Then, Putrajaya would be awash with blood and guts, just like an abattoir.

Khairy acts like he has a vested interest in Shahrizat’s NFC project or at least her condominium. Shahrizat is nonplussed and protective of her family members, whom she felt had been wrongly accused.

She didn’t mince her words when she said, “I don’t think they deserve it. They work very hard”.

The rakyat are bewildered. The people at the centre of these allegations, namely Shahrizat’s spouse and offspring, have been strangely silent about the whole fiasco. Cow-ed into silence perhaps?
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 12:03 pm

    If I were Shahrizat, I really didn’t know how to hide my face – I would have quit the minister’s post and stepped down unconditionally.

  2. #2 by Loh on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 12:58 pm

    ///The hapless agriculture minister, cowed by the burden of having to massage the truth, declared in Parliament that the NFC project was a success and had achieved its target of producing 8,000 head of cattle by 2010. Perhaps he was suffering from foot and mouth disease.///–MM

    It would be a complete success if they had created one head of cattle in a laboratory, even by spending 250 million Ringgit. Give 8,000 families 31,000 Ringgit each, they too would be able to produce at least one cattle each, and that too would be a complete success. The government would then have helped 8,000 families rather than only helping one family of a minister. Was NEP meant to help rich minister getter richer? If the NFC was not part of NEP, then it needed not be given to Malay, and let’s count Shahrizat as one.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 1:21 pm

    If I were Shahrizat, I really would sell off all the cows and migrate back to Kerala to live like a queen with all the millions given free to me by unmo

  4. #4 by k1980 on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 1:36 pm

    //She didn’t mince her words when she said, “I don’t think they deserve it. They work very hard”.//

    Does she mean to say other families do not work very hard? That they sleep under the coconut trees all day long? And it is not how hard but how smart you work to be successful. There are people who slog 15 hours a day on 2 jobs but still remain poor, while others work only 3 hours a day and are rich.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 2:06 pm

    Aiyo, we should all be so grateful that foreign educated youths are willing to come back to Bolehland to herd cattle. You know how hard it is to herd cattle ? Ask the kampung folks. These cows can’t be left alone, or they will wander into other villages, and be slaughtered. Or they could wander into roads and become roadkill. So our kids are always on the lookout for the cows in their four wheel vehicles.

  6. #6 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 2:07 pm

    It was no true that the government could not do anything once the money was in NFC…. the fact was MOF has 1 share suppose to be golden share and if MOF want to act, it can use his GOLDEN SHARE power… the Minister is just telling lies…

    but that was right too, as in the first place the soft loan must have many conditions to meet before it was drawn down… since it was in NFC to the extend it was in excess mean that most likely or purposely just give as nobody business… another lies

  7. #7 by Godfather on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 2:38 pm

    Mariam: Have you tried condo-raised beef ? Leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

  8. #8 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 2:53 pm

    If i were Shahrizat,i would hide my face with cow hide and put some make-up with cow dung.Nobody will recognise and dare to come near to me.

  9. #9 by Godfather on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 3:18 pm

    Now Muhyiddin says Shahrizat had nothing to do with the project. It was her husband and children, and the minister never discussed the deal with them nor lobbied the state and federal governments. Another cow sense explanation from Moo.

  10. #10 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 3:27 pm

    Ya,he can moOOOOO till all the cows come home but no one without cow sense will buy his cow story.

  11. #11 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 3:48 pm

    Let the defense go on and on. They will justified until the cow turn into deer, as in China deer can be a horse. We will never expect all the stupid cows will ever owned up their corrupt practice.

    The latest NFC audited account filed with SSM for the year ended 31.12.2009 shown that technically this Company is insolvent as the company has run into accumulated loss of 19,928,604 AGAINST ITS paid up share capital of 1.1 million

    we will expect more bleeding not from the cows but from you and me, as more tax payers money will go to the rescue . Another golden share company just like MAS in the making?

  12. #12 by Jong on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 4:32 pm

    Mr Sleepyhead just woke up, comes to her defense! Wow must something’s BIG they are covering!

  13. #13 by tuahpekkong on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 5:23 pm

    BN and son-inlaw milk the cow, BN and son-inlaw don,t know how.

  14. #14 by ktteokt on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 5:59 pm

    Is Muhi saying that Sharizat DOES NOT KNOW HER HUSBAND AND CHILDREN? Are they strangers?

  15. #15 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 6:33 pm

    “Hey diddle diddle,
    The MP on the fiddle
    The cow jumped over the moon
    Khairy laughed to see such sport,
    And Noh cow-ed like a buffoon”


  16. #16 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 6:37 pm

    Now Pak lah is finally talking “sense”.

    “It’s her husband…Shahrizat is not involved, so don’t ask her.”

    Pak Lah, it’s so Malaysian that ex-PMs should keep their mouth shut so as not to re-confirm and repeat their manifold follies.

    I guees that is UMNO culture-lah. Ministers can scratch each other’s backs and award cross-ministry projects to their anak, cucu, abang-adik, suami-isteri dan lain-lain lagi.

    Ugh, UMNO – begitu zaman purba kala!

  17. #17 by monsterball on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 7:09 pm

    Sit back and enjoy ….crooks protecting crooks.

  18. #18 by monsterball on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 7:27 pm

    Shahrizat…lost to new coming Nurul in 12th GE was not a fluke shot after all.
    She has no brains…talking like that….giving Malaysians a rare occasion to see Mariam Mokhtar quoting nursery rhyme….joking and needling the crooks.
    cintangeraga is speechless.

  19. #19 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 8:37 pm

    SHE is a caring n good Women Family n Community Development Minister mah
    First n foremost she must look after d welfare of HER OWN FAMILY lor
    No 1 shld fault her on dis, an excellent mother and a good wife

  20. #20 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 8:47 pm

    Now KJ’s FIL said no need 2 outlaw d cow minister as “What’s it got 2 do with her?”
    Really NO COW sense 1, dis Zzzzzz FIL of KJ

  21. #21 by Godfather on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - 9:48 pm

    All those defending the project passionately – Badawi, Muhyiddin, Noh Omar, KJ – must have had a prominent role in the approval. Most likely one main beneficiary and it isn’t the rakyat.

  22. #22 by sotong on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 8:31 am

    Many parties benefited from this failed project.

  23. #23 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 8:43 am

    Resign or other wise the damaged has been done. The money has gone and it was another failed project using the tax payers money.

    It was very clear that some one has abused the power. If the guy was not like to the a BN minister that company will never got the project anyway. It is fine if they are sincere to be a perternak lembu but along the way when they see millions laying on the carpet they have forgotten how to be a peternak lembu and become robbers instead.

    NFC has been making losses and losses was not concern to them in fact the fastest the losses the better they are as the company will be bailed out by BN. Juts like MAS, remember?

    Her name was not in NCF does not mean she was that involved, the simple fact was that NCF belong to all her closest family members is enough to nail her down.

    If BN is to live up to its slogan of people first now is the time for their minister to own up their folly.

    but this will never happened…………

    until next GE……………..

  24. #24 by Thinking Two on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 9:46 am

    Teoh Beng Hock also not involved in the flag purchasing but he ……..

    MACC dare to said that it is not a corruption case but only over priced only.

    DAP pleased insist that the authority concerned go trace the original invoice or cash bill back to the original vendor so as to ensure the anount stated therein is the exact amount shown.

  25. #25 by Not spoon fed on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 2:20 pm

    Please use projector to show to public and show at each long house about this corruption.

    Please have open air talk (ceramah) nationwide without stopping.

    We need to go deeper and deeper into Sabah and Sarawak rural areas to let all know about this ruling Barisan Nasional how inefficient, incapable and bias and corrupted they are.

    MCA, MIC and Gerakan have no dignity. This UMNO has oppressed the normal citizens, misused national fund and corrupted in all aspects, they still support them and join UMNO.

    See how UMNO treat other as 2nd class citizens but they still sweet talk on behalf of UMNO. These MCA, MIC, Gerakan, etc. just want money from UMNO.

    This is how a normal citizen like me think and write here.

  26. #26 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 7:48 am

    Muhiyiddin and anyone else should be FIRED for saying NFC got nothing to do with Shahrizat. The project was a cabinet decision. HER FAMILY AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFIES. The fact that they did not stop the award was bad enough BUT to say it got nothing to do Sharizat just shows they DON’T HAVE A CLUE WHAT THEIR JOB IS and therefore should go..

    ITS IMPOSSIBLE that Sharizat and family did not LIE and since it involved public money, ITS FRAUD – punishable by jail..Either we have the most screwed up system that allows fraud which means the ENTIRE BN Govt don’t have a clue what they are doing and should go or Sharizat and family is guilty of fraud. Which is it?

  27. #27 by Peter on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 10:39 am

    Well we have watergate, now in Bolehland we have cowgate, it seems. How amazing indeed!!. What a bunch of greedy politicians milking the poor rakyat hard earned money.
    The Deputy Prime Minister Mooo…yiddin Yassin said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is not involved in the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal is not surprise at all, if you know what i meant.
    That so called minister and her husband must be living separate lives. Otherwise how can she not be involved? Without the minister’s influence, where could her husband have gotten the soft loan of RM250 million bucks?. Thats a lot of dole. Imagine if that money is use to help the hardcore poor rakyat.

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