There are many in the country who regard the "war against corruption" as only a political gimmick which would fizzle out in a short while.
I take a positive attitude and want to see the "war against corruption" achieve results and take root in the country, resulting in the creation of a new political culture on integrity in public service and political life with zero tolerance for corruption.
If the "all-out war against corruption" is to succeed, then all political leaders must set good examples.
It is most ironical that when Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib resigned as Selangor Mentri Besar in April, he said he wanted to set an example of the "new culture of accountability" as in Japan and South Korea where government and political leaders resign their various posts if involved in scandals of corruption, gross negligence or incompetence.
On this standard set by Muhammad Taib, the Malacca State Secretary Abdul Rahman Jamal should at minimum be asked to go on leave as he is under investigations by the Anti-Corruption Agency in connection with the contract for the new Malacca State Sports Complex.
Be that as it may, Muhammad Taib himself had not fully acted out the example of the "new culture of accountability" he wanted to set, as he has not resigned as UMNO Vice President and State Assemblyman for Batang Kali, especially when he had not fulfilled his promise at a press conference on 14th April that he was going to sue the Brisbane Courier-Mail for its various reports about his Australian properties.
What is of greater concern to Malaysians is Muhammad Taib’s failure in the past six months to give a satisfactory explanation for the the RM25.4 million worth of various expenditures and properties which had been reported by the foreign press and linked to him, namely:
1. 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;
2. that he is building a RM2 million Gold Coast home at Sovereign Islands in the name of his wife, Asbi Rohani Binti Asnan;
3. a RM5 million ranch in Queensland in the name of his wife, Asbi Rohani Binti Asnan; and
4. that he had paid RM16 million as a divorce settlement with Tengku Puteri Zahariah Bte Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (Ku Yah).
If the all-out war against corrupution launched by Anwar is to be taken seriously both inside and outside the country, then the drive must also be extended to the "appearance of corruption".
Muhammad Taib has not only failed to institute legal proceedings against the Brisbane Courier-Mail, the Queensland newspaper has now come out with a new revelation that Muhammad Taib had acquired more than A$3 (RM5.2) million of property in New Zeland over the past year and registered in his wife’s name.
The Brisbane Courier Mail report, dated 28th June, 1997, under the heading "Politician’s property empire still growing", in a report by-lined Sean Parnell, states:
"The international property empire of an embattled Malaysian politician continues to grow despite concerns over how he funds the massive land purchases.
"Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, a vice president of the ruling United Malays National Organisation, resigned as chief minister of Selangor in April citing The Courier-Mail’s reporting of his activities as a reason for his decision.
"On December 22 last year, Mr. Muhammad was detained at Brisbane International Airport as he was about to board a plane to New Zealand with the equivalent of A$1.26 million in Singapore, Malaysian and New Zealand currency in his luggage.
"Customs officials have alleged that they were not told about the cash, and Mr. Muhammad will appear in committal proceedings in Brisbane’s Federal Court on August 19 on charges of failing to declare cash above A$5000 and making a false declaration.
"The Courier-Mail has revealed Mr. Muhammad and his wife spent a week in Australia - checking on a luxury house being built on the Gold Coast and a 4500ha property in western Queensland - then flew to New Zealand for two weeks after Mr. Muhammad had appeared in court.
"The properties - registered to his wife in her maiden name of Asnan - were purchased last year for more than $3 million.
"It has been discovered more than $3 million of property has been purchased in New Zealand over the past year and registered to Ms Asnan…
"Land title searches have revealed six properties on New Zealand’s north island - in total more than 140 ha - registered to Ms Asnan.
"Documents show a 4573 sq m property in Pakurunga was purchased on June 18 last year; a 1713 sq m property in Otahuhu was bought on November 27 last year for $550,000; and four properties in Mataitai, totalling 144ha, were bought between November 29 last year and March 11 this year.
"Purchase price for the Pakurunga and Mataitai properties were not disclosed on transfer documents, although stamp duty payments indicate a total transaction for the Mataitai properties of about $2.1 million.
"The Pakurunga property was purchased from Hasan B.M.Taib of Singapore, who is Mr. Muhammad’s younger brother. Hasan purchased the property in 1990 for $520,000."
With these new revelations in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, Muhammad Taib, who had failed to sue the newspaper despite his public threat on April 14, has no choice but to resign as UMNO Vice President as well as Assemblyman for Batang Kali.
The Anti-Corruption Agency sent a high-powered team to Brisbane to investigate into the reports about the various properties of Muhammad Taib in Australia. Nobody knows what is the outcome of such investigations. Is the ACA also going to send a team to New Zealand to check on the new revelations?