DAP calls on  Abdullah to name the two deputy ministers being investigated by ACA, one from Sarawak and the other in connection with a bribe in the award of RM1.6 million TNB contract


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Tuesday): One question currently uppermost in the minds of many Malaysians is whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s anti-corruption drive has run out of steam that it is now bogged down with secondary or even tertiary issues about the propriety of media reports of Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) investigations? 

A fortnight ago, outgoing Sarawak ACA director Mohd Jamidan Abdullah revealed that a federal deputy minister from Sarawak was  being investigated by ACA   under Section 11(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1997 since November last year. 

As there are only five Federal deputy ministers from Sarawak, viz., Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum (Foreign Affairs), Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew (Housing and Local Government), Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas (Transport) and Joseph Entulu Belaun (Prime Minister’s Department) apart from  Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe (Rural and Regional Development), everyone of the five came under a cloud and public suspicion. 

I myself asked Robert Lau whether he was “the one out of the five” when I met him at the special Parliament sitting on 17th January,   which he strenuously denied. 

All the other four had also, like Robert Lau, made their public denials of being investigated by the ACA. They recently  sent a joint letter of “regret”  to the Prime Minister about the ACA disclosure, claiming their collective and individual innocence of being subject to ACA probe. 

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has waded into subject, declaring that it is not proper for ongoing ACA investigations to be disclosed in the media, as it could lead to a person under investigation being perceived as guilty even though that might not be true.

However, Malaysians will remember that neither Najib nor the Barisan Nasional leaders had any objections when Opposition members were   the target  of media reporting about ACA investigations, the most notorious case was  the media frenzy before the 1999 general election  about ACA investigation into the  statutory declaration by former Bank Negara deputy governor Abdul Murad  alleging that former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had amassed a fortune of RM3 billion while in government through 20 "Master Accounts". 

More than five years have passed, but nothing has been heard about the outcome of ACA investigation into the Murad allegations, whether the ACA had found nothing at all in the Murad statutory declaration and had closed the file. 

In 2003, ACA announced a new transparency policy to be more responsive towards public demand for information about its investigations, including issuing statements concerning cases  of public interest, one of  is  clearly the case of Murad allegations of Anwar’s RM3 billion fortune through 20 “Master Accounts”.  What has ACA found  after five years of investigation into Anwar’s alleged RM3 billion fortune accumulated while in government? 

Najib’s public comment on ACA investigation into one of  the five Sarawak Federal deputy ministers missed the most important point altogether  – that one of the five is probably guilty of the additional crime of a public lie  in denying being under ACA investigations, as the ACA had subsequently confirmed such an investigation.  

The real public interest questions are firstly  which  one of the five Sarawak Federal deputy ministers is under ACA investigation, and secondly, underlined  his untrustworthiness and unfitness to hold public office with the public lie of denial – and not about the propriety of media reports about ongoing ACA investigations. 

The Prime Minister, the government and the Malaysian public have been presented with the spectacle of either one of the five Sarawak Federal deputy ministers lying about being investigated by ACA or the ACA lying about such an investigation.  

The Prime Minister cannot close his eyes to such a blatant contradiction of either one of his Sarawak Federal deputy Ministers or the ACA lying – which is intolerable and must not be allowed to drag on for another day, as it is doing grave damage to the credibility, authority and legitimacy of the government. 

During the March general election last year, one of the full-page Barisan Nasional advertisements in the mainstream media in the name of “VOICES OF MALAYSIA – FRIENDS OF BN” proclaimed this pledge to Abdullah: “You’re not alone in fighting corruption.  We’re beside you every step of the way.” 

 With the  full  backing  of his anti-corruption fight “every step of the way”’,  the 25 million Malaysians have been waiting  anxiously and impatiently for  Abdullah to take real concrete steps to conduct  an all-out war against corruption – and it is disheartening that the whole national integrity campaign is being bogged down  instead on the secondary or even tertiary issue about the propriety of media reports of  ACA investigations. 

There is now another “cat-and-mouse” game, following a Saturday  report of in New Straits Times and Berita Harian about ACA investigations into a deputy minister who had influenced the awarding of a RM1.6 million TNB contract.  

The next day Mingguan Malaysia quoted the ACA director-general Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor saying that no deputy minister was under investigation regarding the matter. This was rebutted by  Monday’s Berita Harian, quoting Zulkipli clarifying that he did not deny  the report about corruption  investigation involving a deputy minister in connection with a RM1.6 million TNB contract, but merely denying that the report had come from ACA.  

With  the Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Husin, declaring that he was not the “deputy minister” referred to in the report on  ACA investigation  for accepting a bribe in connection with the award of a RM1.6 million TNB contract, the stage seems to be set for another ridiculous round of denials by more deputy ministers, which could not have any credibility after the farce of the denials of the five Sarawak Federal deputy ministers. 

DAP calls on the Prime Minister to be forthright and frank with the people of Malaysia by identifying the two deputy ministers involved in the two ACA investigations, as well as the status of ACA investigations into both cases.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman