ADUN SPEAKS | I really don't understand why the MACC refuses to act against BN politicians when there are some prima facie evidence that they might be involved in some shady or corrupt deals. At the same time, why is the MACC so eager to investigate politicians who are not aligned with the BN on mere suspicions?
In other words, are we saying that the MACC practices double standards when it comes to the enforcement of laws against corruption and abuse of power?
There is widespread thinking that the MACC, that supposed to act without fear of favour, might not be discharging its duties as expected by the society. While major corruption scandals linking BN politicians are left without any investigation, while mere police reports on politicians especially in opposition controlled states for alleged corruption gets the quick attention of the MACC.
In this respect, is there a double standard practised by the MACC, the public guardian against corruption and abuse of power? Is taxpayers' money well spent in rooting out corruption ,or is it channelled for the purpose of investigating politicians in the opposition-controlled states of Penang and Selangor?
In the case of the Penang government's undersea tunnel project, a mere police report from a leader of a BN-aligned mosquito party was enough to launch a major investigation by the MACC. It has been more than two years, the MACC has roped in more than 100 witnesses, arrested and remanded about five individuals, and called in two members of the Penang executive council for questioning about the whether there was any corruption or kickbacks in the award of the project.
Of course, the investigation by the MACC was spurred on by the numerous attacks launched by the MCA, Gerakan and other leaders of the BN-aligned political parties. MCA leaders who are eager to make come back in the coming general election zeroed in on the tunnel issue to obtain maximum publicity.
However, whether their involvement in criticising the tunnel project would serve their political interests remains doubtful. In fact, there is widespread feeling among the people who are fed up with the traffic congestion in Penang, that BN political parties such as the MCA and Gerakan might have undermined the efforts of the Penang government to provide a durable solution to the traffic woes of the state.
Even if there is perceived bias on the part of the MACC to investigate individuals linked to the opposition front, surely the MACC is expected to do a proper job in investigating all those who are involved in the undersea tunnel project. While the MACC was quick to nab a businessman for obtaining RM19 million for failing to provide "consultancy services" for Zenith, it however failed to nab the Umno's Baling MP Abdul Azeez Rahim for allegedly obtaining RM3 million for similar services.
It was the demand letters from Zenith on February 27 to the two individuals that spurred the MACC to arrest the businessman for investigation. However, the MACC failed to arrest the Umno politician who was involved in a similar dubious consultancy work. So why the double standards?
Is it because Umno politicians are beyond reproach?
As result of the demand letters issued by Zenith, it was clear that the two individuals who received varying sums were not professionals or technical experts, but engaged for some nefarious activities nothing to do with "providing consultancy on regulatory compliance and risk management". It is strange that these two individuals, who were apparently hired, posed the greatest danger for a decent management of the tunnel project.
Initially the Azeez denied that he was involved in the Zenith project, and later he lodged a police report against Zenith for smearing his name as a swindler and corrupt person. He denied that he was involved in abetting a businessman by the name of Abdul Jabarullah Kadersah to obtain the RM3 million from Zenith. His lawyer has given Zenith four days to withdraw the demand letter or else face a civil suit for smearing the name of his client.
The MACC could have improved its public image if it also arrested or detained Azeez for questioning on the tunnel project as they had done the other individual. But it failed to do so. This is something that the MACC might have difficulty in explaining to the Malaysian public.
I am not sure whether MACC is being used for a political witch-hunt, but its recent actions do not augur well for the country as whole. How can corruption be reduced if the principal agency entrusted to wipe out corruption is not allowed to operate independently and democratically?
P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister and the state assemblyperson for Perai.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.