Shahrizat is Najib’s millstone

Mariam Mokhtar | Feb 6, 2012

There was one serious flaw in the success story of Malaya: The emergent Malaysia bred generations of Malay politicians who, when caught with their hands in the public kitty, will do anything to hang on to power.

They continue nonchalantly because they are confident their peers will play along with the charade.

They delight in “proving their innocence” by swearing on the Quran. Some think that by seeking absolution from God, by going on umrahs, they are able to convince the god-fearing public, that the pilgrimage is a testament of their innocence.

The National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal hangs like a millstone around the neck of the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Acting like a wounded animal, she has chosen to belittle Islam, and cast doubt on the intelligence of Malaysians. She has even striven to involve Wanita Umno.

On her return from the umrah, Shahrizat said: “Why have I went [sic] to Mecca three times in two-and-a-half months? Because I’m God-fearing, I ask for guidance from Allah.”

Instead of inviting understanding and compassion, Shahrizat only increased our contempt of her. How can Shahrizat spend so much time away from work? What is her ministry’s Key Performance Index? How can she waste so much of the taxpayers’ money on three trips to Saudi Arabia, in as many months?

Are we to infer that holy visits are a proof of innocence? In times of austerity, how did she stretch her ministerial wage?

Perhaps, the opposition should table a parliamentary motion for all ministers to declare their expenses, and NOT just their assets.

The fault is not her’s entirely. The whole award system lacks transparency. The MACC and the police drag their feet on investigations. The prime minister only pretends to act like one.

The RM250 million of misappropriated public funds swirl around the NFC, whose chairman Mohamed Salleh Ismail is Shahrizat’s husband.

Money not disbursed to satellite ranchers

Their children are also implicated and it is alleged that they have business dealings with other ministerial children.

The Auditor-General, Ambrin Buang, has stated that the audit was not on the NFC, as a whole, and that it established that the NFC had failed to meet its target.

The audit was merely to ascertain why money was not disbursed to the satellite ranchers despite being channelled to the ministry/NFC.

In an interview with Rafizi Ramli (left), the PKR strategic director who highlighted the NFC scandal, PKR used the audit report to demand accountability in government funding: “We carried out our own investigation and followed leads provided by whistleblowers.

“The resultant exposés are clear indictments that public funds had been channelled outside NFC to benefit the family of a federal minister.”

Rafizi alleged that various companies which had been set up and received NFC funding, were owned wholly by Shahrizat’s family. Capital assets of the NFC had no relevance to the cattle industry and targets agreed with the government were not achieved.

Simple questions were asked: “When these businesses don’t seem to be making money, who is going to repay the loans?

“Why was this company, owned by a minister’s family, chosen as an integrator for this project when they had no experience in the cattle industry and they openly admitted this?

“Why did they transfer money to entities controlled by them and then go on shopping sprees?

“This is a government-funded project, why did they spend exorbitantly when the targets were not met?”

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin defended the NFC project and rejected opposition demands for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate the NFC, because he claimed that current investigations were sufficient.

Rafizi rubbished his comments and said: “The NFC scandal has come to a stage where normal investigation will not be able to unravel the extent of abuse and political interference. That is why Pakatan has stepped up calls for an RCI.

“We started with revelations of financial misappropriation of public funds, but gradually we discovered that the extent was worse than anticipated.

“Lately, there had been clear attempts to cover up the scandal. This suggests that public officials were coerced into making statements favourable to the NFC.”

‘Shady deals’ conducted behind the scene

Asked if the AG had made a U-turn, Rafizi said: “It was unprecedented for the Auditor-General to bow down to political pressure.

“We have also established the modus operandi used to transfer funds to companies or business entities owned by the minister’s family.”

Rafizi alleged that many shady deals were being conducted behind the scenes, despite Najib’s claims that NFC’s assets had been frozen.

“There is a frantic move to restructure the groups and transfer assets so as to cover their tracks, in preparation for a media blitz by NFC, later this month.

“So this is no longer an issue about cows. It is about the whole weight of government resources and machinery being bent to save a minister, whose family has clearly misappropriated public funds for purposes not agreed by the government.

“A scandal of this scale requires a far reaching investigation that only an RCI has the power to accomplish.”

Supporting calls for investigations into the NFC is DAP’s Lim Kit Siang (right) who has urged patriotic Malaysians “to demand in a loud and clear voice an RCI into the NFC scandal”.

Rafizi agreed: “Public pressure is paramount to this effort. Najib’s administration lives in fear of a public backlash, so they monitor activities on the internet and carry out surveys regularly to gauge the public sentiment.”

The PKR strategic director discussed tactics to make the government accede to an RCI.

“To those who are bold enough to participate in a rally, please also organise rallies and get people to participate.

“Letters to online media, mainstream newspapers and government websites will help maintain the pressure.

“Better still, if people interact constantly with the prime minister via twitter to pressure him for an RCI on NFC – he would be pressured one way or another to respond. Comments made at PM’s blog and online media do make a lot of difference.”

Later this month, Rafizi will team up with Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, on a nationwide campaign.

“We will sell books and meet the public to explain why an RCI is necessary. As this gathers momentum, we need the public to show up at these roadshows. We hope Najib has no option but to agree to an RCI.”

Following the opposition’s investigations, Rafizi stressed that several questions had been directed at both Najib and the BN.

“So far no answers have been forthcoming.”


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 Godfather on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 12:23 pm

    There will be answers, but of the manufactured type based on the tangled web they weave.

  2. #2 by rockdaboat on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 12:53 pm

    A cut-throat chichen struggling for its last breath!

  3. #3 by k1980 on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 1:16 pm

    She will end up like ‘the king of kings’ below

  4. #4 by Jong on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 1:48 pm

    The whole system sucks!
    Tough talk, this former …’lawyer and magistrate’ threatened to expose the rest, the whole bunch. Tak takut kah Najib, his Penguinmah too, all sh*tting bricks now!

  5. #5 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 2:05 pm

    Fat mama had a 24million diamond stone. Perempuan mamak (jenis melayu celup) had a 250million mile stone. Waaaaa. Mana boleh?

  6. #6 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 2:12 pm

    “..They continue nonchalantly because they are confident their peers will play along with the charade….”

    They continue because they know ALL of them has similar skeletons in the closet. Did Shahrizat not retort that “….all leaders (UMNO) has problems” when questioned by a reporter on the NFC scandal? And we all know who are the biggest of them all. That is why Shahrizat knows that no actions will be taken against her because she has sounded the threat that she will expose the others as well. Hence, we find several UMNO leaders from Khairy to Badawi rushing to defend her at the onset until they realise it was too hot to handle.

    Rafizi is right. The signs are all there of a cover up by the various investigative agencies. MACC’s mysterious flip flop to investigate or not and the long drawn out investigations by the PDRM to the AG’s turn around are indeed worrying signs that worst is yet to come.

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 2:14 pm

    Mariam’s piece focuses on the beleaguered minister. For perspective the larger patronage system that characterizes our political system should not be overlooked. As a means of political corruption and maintenance/perpetuation of power, it is uniquely efficient: government contracts (monopolies) concessions, licences, grants, soft loans are awarded by politicians with power to grant to cronies for round tripping of monies back re-channeled back to politicians or their proxies. They keep a portion; their boss in the political hierarchy keeps another portion; the balance is given back to the political party for election campaign. The fact that all parties including the political party have a share implies that all takers are protected because the fall of one will implicate the other. At the same time national resources via this largesse could be used whether by the politicians or the party to buy political loyalty from delegates as well as votes from electors/voters. The vast wealth of the nation belonging to the rakyat is thus harnessed for financing of election, buying of support in perpetuation of political elites’ rule forever and ever as long as the nation/people by taxes could afford it!

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 2:23 pm

    Viewed from systemic perspective, the sin is not in benefitting but being caught (highlighted by whistleblowers or opposition) and the racket exposed to the loss of credibility of the whole group! Understandably from viewpoint of the person caught/exposed, he/she will ask: why should he/she alone take the rap when others who share the bounty/loot walk free? This is in a way the perverted way of looking at justice but there it is: it has to be “all for one and for or all” in this game of thievery of public resources! Come election time, challengers from the outside (opposition) always promise to end the corruption that’s inside and bring a fresh start. The incumbent gets kicked out and then the same thing happens a few years later, when the new group settles in power. They have to “refine” the method a notch more intricate to be one step ahead of the naïve public/electorate.

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 2:36 pm

    So in reality, I won’t say all but generally politicians cannot be trusted when they’re in power by reason of human nature/greed and Lord Acton’s famous dictum, “power corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. In fact, let’s not vilify only politicians: even people of other professions, would you trust them with power without defined check and balance with your money? So much depends, in context, on check and balance built into the political system against human propensity to cheat and profit. It should be pointed out for the sake of perspective political corruption is not sole preserve of third world countries and their illiterate or semi literate electorate. Even in matured democracies like USA, the political elites there have evolved an extremely complicated system of legal lobbying. Special business interests donate huge sums of money to Congressmen to lobby for legislations favourable to their interests. Monies are channeled to campaign funds as well as charitable blind trusts and from there, where it goes is anyone’s guess! Wikipedia’s long list of state and local political scandals in the US (so called bastion/citadel of Democracy) is sufficient to challenge the notion that man is inherently good!

  10. #10 by Winston on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 5:19 pm

    # Jeffrey, “So much depends, in context, on check and balance
    built into the political system against human propensity to
    cheat and profit.” – end of quote

    So, alright, checks and balances are built into the political
    Let’s say that it works wonderfully.
    Every time any one cheats or profit from their position, they are
    But those who are in the top hierarchy, who can take action,
    refused to do so (because they are even more tainted or perhaps
    the offender has his/her hands on his crown jewels and have
    no qualms about squeezing them?) what can anyone do?
    And this is exactly the case in this country!

  11. #11 by Godfather on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 7:26 pm

    Denial after denial doesn’t work anymore so they need more time to concoct a watertight story – full of noble purposes, full of racial and religious overtones, full of nice (and untrue) statistics. Then they bring in the enforcement agencies to buy in on the story….and to claim that nothing unlawful was committed…

    The less tume they have, the more holes will appear in their story…so the chances are that elections will be delayed to provide more “spin”.

  12. #12 by monsterball on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 - 11:01 pm

    3 times to Mecca in 2 months…will cost her a bundle.
    Where did she get the money to do that?
    The more this cowherd talks…she is sure..Najib will protect her.
    After all..abang/adek must stick together…..and so….MACC is waiting for instructions from Najib.

  13. #14 by ekompute on Sunday, 12 February 2012 - 3:02 am

You must be logged in to post a comment.