Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Taib must be more serious and responsible about Malaysia’s reputation for political integrity and not undermine national efforts to improve Malaysia’s ranking in the forthcoming 1997 Transparency International corruption perception index expected in six months’ time.
It was reported in today’s press that when asked about my query as to why he went to Gold Coast Brisbane to buy property on behalf of his brothers, Muhammad Taib responded by saying that he could pose the same question to me about my choice of where to buy a house.
It was reported that he then pointed to a reporter and asked: “Why do you wear a blue shirt and I wear a green one? It’s all a matter of personal taste. I may like a certain type of woman but you may prefer something else.”
Muhammad’s response is not only in very bad taste, but shows that he does not understand why Malaysians throughout the country are asking so many questions arising from his press conference explanation about his RM2.4 million cash in various currencies for which he was arrested and charged in Brisbane for not declaring as required by Australian law.
I concede that Muhammad and his brothers have the right to choose to buy property in Gold Coast, Brisbane, or wherever they want, provided they have the money.
The question as to why he was buying property for his brothers in Gold Coast automatically arose from his press conference statement because of doubts about the credibility of his explanations.
Muhammad said the property in Gold Coast Brisbane was meant for his brothers’ children to have a place to stay when they go to Australia to further their studies.
As Gold Coast Brisbane is not famous as an educational centre unlike Sydney, Melbourne or even Adelaide and Perth but for its entertainment attractions, nightspots, 24-hour casinos and Surfers’ Paradise, the question naturally arose as to whether Muhammad explanation is credible or not.
Similarly, when Muhammad said that he had gone to Gold Coast to transact a property deal for his brothers Dato Othman and Dato Raduan but had to bring back the money because both of them were not there to sign the Sale and Purchase Agreement, the question of credibility again arose because Muhammed had known even before he left for Australia that both his brothers could not be in Brisbane, and if so, why carry the RM2.4 million with him?
Of course, the questions raising the biggest doubts about the credibility of his press conference statement is why he had carried RM2.4 million cash in the era of electronic banking transactions, and the real source and origin of the money.
Muhammad should realise that his RM2.4 million caper in Brisbane is not just his personal matter, but affects the international reputation of Malaysia - particularly in the national efforts to improve on Malaysia’s ranking in the forthcoming Transparency International 1997 international corruption perception index, which had placed Malaysia on the lowly position of No. 26 out of a list of 54 countries in its 1996 index.
Furthermore, Mohammad’s RM2.4 million caper in Brisbane has also undermined the good image the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, had created when he made the highly emotional and powerful speech at the UMNO General Assembly last October, warning that money politics and corruption would cause the ruin of party, race and nation.
For these higher national reasons, Muhammad should come out with a full and satisfactory explanation to answer the many questions that had been raised by his press conference, and not to wait for his trial in the Brisbane court on March 21 - especially as Muhammad has nothing additional to tell the Australian court, as he had publicly admitted to the charge of having and not declaring RM2.4 million cash when leaving Australia on Dec. 22.