COMMENT | It’s been awhile since a big fish has been detained by anti-corruption agency MACC. It has always been the small ‘ikan bilis’ that have been investigated, caught and charged, although the amount involved in these cases aren’t exactly small.
For example, the infamous case of the Sabah Water Department employees who were caught with an absurd amount of cash worth more than RM110 million. So if these are the small fish, then can you imagine how much is involved when it comes to the big fish?
The big fish that I am referring to is Isa Samad. How big a fish is he? Well, he is the acting chief of the Land Public Transport Commission (Spad), used to be the Negeri Sembilan menteri besar for 22 years, Federal Territories minister and was even a vice-president in Umno. He is currently the MP for Jempol. Quite big!
Isa was also once the chairperson of Felda Global Ventures and this is where he ran afoul of the MACC. He is being investigated for several purchases of hotels made by Felda in London, United Kingdom and Sarawak, Kuching.
It is alleged that the purchases were made based on inflated prices. The actual price of the London hotel is RM110 million but Felda purchased it at RM330 million, while the hotel in Kuching is worth RM110 million too, but was purchased at RM160 million.
The latest news is that Isa’s new office at Spad has also been raided by the MACC along with two of his homes in Petaling Jaya and Nilai. There was also an issue of him being made to wear the orange lock-up uniform when he is only a suspect (he is being remanded for five days) and has not yet been charged.
That aside, this new turn of events has renewed my faith in MACC. They have been quiet recently after several big arrests were made a year or two ago. In fact, many people had the perception that they have actually stopped doing their job for whatever reason.
But still, there is no lack of pessimism even after the remand of such a big fish as Isa. Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang said that arrests will be made when time comes close to a general election to give the impression that the government is cracking down on corruption.
Convinced that this is just a show, he wondered out aloud if this investigation will end with someone being convicted. He said that Isa could just go the way of so many other prominent politicians who were investigated for corruption but had escaped.
As much as I feel that renewed faith in the MACC, I have to admit that Lim’s pessimism is also starting to infect me a little bit...