(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The resignation of Muhammad Taib as Selangor Mentri Besar, as announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting today, is something that should have been done right from the beginning, when three-and-half months ago, Muhammad Taib was arrested at the Brisbane International Airport on December 22 last year.
Muhamad Taib has repeatedly brought ridicule and odium to Malaysia in the international arena with the foreign mass media reports about his RM2.4 million cash caper at the Brisbane International Airport last year, resulting in his being arrested and charged in the Brisbane court, and his various expenditures and Australian properties.
So far, Muhammad Taib has maintained a very extraordinary silence about these revelations by the Brisbane Courier Mail about his various properties in Australia, as he is entitled to vindicate his legal rights if there is no basis to the Brisbane Courier-Mail reports and institute defamation proceedings against the Brisbane newspaper to clear his name and reputation.
I had early this morning called on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, to direct Muhammad Taib to publicly explain the RM25.4 million worth of various expenditures and properties which had been reported by international press and linked to him, namely (I) that the RM2.4 million cash for which he was arrested in Brisbane was intended to purchase furniture and fittings for his new Gold Coast home; (ii) that he is building a RM2 million Gold Coast home at Sovereign Islands; (iii) that he had bought a RM5 million ranch in Queensland; and (iv) that he had paid RM16 million as a divorce settlement with Tengku Puteri Zahariah Bte Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (Ku Yah).
As Muhammad Taib has resigned as Selangor Mentri Besar, he retains his position as UMNO Vice President and being still in the political mainstream, he must still uphold the principles of accountability, transparency and integrity and he cannot remain silent on these specific allegations.
Muhammad Taib should confirm or deny each of these four specific allegations, and to sue the Brisbane Courier-Mail if there is no basis whatsoever in these allegations; or explain how while being Mentri Besar he could have expended over RM25 million on these four items, the origin and source of these wealth which were clearly disproportionate to his known sources of income; what were his other unreported expenditures and properties until he resigns as Mentri Besar today; and to declare his total assets, including that of his wife and next of kin.
It is now an acid test for the Anti-Corruption Agency whether it could act effectivedly and expeditiously to conclude the corruption investigations into the Muhammad Taib case, as Muhammad Taib’s August trial in Brisbane in connection with his failure to declare RM2.4 million at the Brisbane airport has nothing to do with his having over RM25 million expenditures and properties as reported in the international press.