(Petaling Jaya, Friday): In this connection, I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yesterday that "the Anti-Corruption Agency has a free hand to investigate the allegations of corruption and property ownership against Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Taib".
This is because up to now, the ACA has given the clear impression that its hands are tied in this matter, especially after the UMNO Supreme Council decision on January 11 to accept the explanation of Tan Sri Muhammad Taib that the RM2.4 million belonged to his brothers.
Before the UMNO Supreme Council meeting, the ACA had announced that it was conducting two separate investigations involving the Selangor Mentri Besar and his two former aides following the discovery of large amounts of cash in Brisbane and Shah Alam respectively in December last year.
Although the ACA Director-General Datuk Shafie Yahya had said that "Both investigations are underway" on 3rd January, there had been no signs or indications until recently that the ACA had started investigations into the case of Muhammad Taib with regard to his RM2.4 million cash caper in Brisbane or his reported Australian properties.
Star today reported that ACA director of operations Nordin Ismail flew to Australia on Tuesday as head of a four-man ACA team to investigate into the case of Muhammad Taib. In 1992, Nordin Ismail led the investigations into the MIC President Datuk Seri Samy Vellu in the MAIKA Telekoms shares hijacking scandal and I hope that Nordin Ismail would be more successful in this investigation.
In Brisbane today, Muhammad Taib’s trial for violating the Australian law in not declaring RM2.4 million cash at the Brisbane International Airport on December 22, 1996 was fixed for three days from August 19 -21. The Australian prosecution today applied for the forfeiture of the RM2.4 million found on Muhammad Taib’s person. It also told the court that it would be filing another charge against Muhammad Taib for false declaration.
Malaysia must not be put through another four months’s agony and international embarrassment over Muhammad Taib’s RM2.4 million cash caper in Brisbane as well as frequent international reports about his Australian properties, which not only embarrass Malaysia but reinforces international perceptions that the ACA is impotent when faced with corruption in high political places.
I would urge Muhammad Taib to seriously consider what I said in Parliament on Wednesday:
"If Muhammad Taib love Malaysia, he should resign as Selangor Mentri Besar so as to end the enormous embarrassment he is causing the nation with endless international reports about his vast wealth and so as not to jeopardise Malaysia’s ranking in the new 1997 Transparency International corruption perception index to be released mid-year."
Muhammad Taib should seriously consider my proposal and tender his resignation by before the Selangor State Assembly meeting on Monday. If Muhammad Taib is not prepared to resign, the least he should do is to learn from the example of the former Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, and immediately take long leave until after the outcome of the Brisbane court proceedings in August, as he should not continue to compromise the credibililty, integrity and authority of the Selangor State Government as well as the international reputation of Malaysia by flaunting his immunity from having to account for his RM2.4 million cash caper and international reports about his unusual wealth.