High-profile corruption charges show fighting graft remains top agenda, says TI-M

Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) says people should not be drawn into talk that the series of high-profile corruption cases are politically motivated.

Instead, TI-M president Dr Muhammad Mohan said the cases, including that of former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today, show that fighting corruption remains top of the nation’s agenda. This, he added, will help raise Malaysia’s ranking in the annual Corruption Perception Index.

Lim, who was detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) last night, claimed trial at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to a bribery charge related to the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project. He is expected to face more charges at the Penang Sessions Court next week.

Lim, the Penang Chief Minister from 2008 to 2018, is accused of requesting 10 per cent of the profits from Datuk Zarul Ahmad Zulkifli as a bribe to get the contract for the project.

“Let’s not speculate and be drawn into such conversations that the charges are politically motivated, said Muhammad Mohan.

“We also must be objective and fair to the accused. Let the rule of law take its course, it will take some time … we have faith in the judiciary system and let the courts decide.”

Muhammad Mohan commended the MACC as several former ministers, including former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, have been nabbed over allegations of corrupt practices since the 2018 general election.

The high-profile cases include:

Najib

Found guilty on all seven counts by the Kuala Lumpur High Court, sentenced to 12 years’ jail and RM210 million fine after he was found guilty of all seven charges related to the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.

Umno president and former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

Faces 12 charges of criminal breach of trust, eight charges of bribery and 27 charges of money laundering involving millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

Former Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor

Accused of receiving a bribe from Joland Group of Companies chairman Datuk Tan Eng Boon. Tan initially claimed trial to bribing Tengku Adnan but last September pleaded guilty to the alternative charge of abetting Tengku Adnan in receiving the bribe. The property developer was fined RM1.5 million.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin

Claimed trial at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court in May 2019 on two counts of receiving bribes of RM2.2 million and RM262,500 respectively for obtaining approval for Felcra to make a RM150 million investment in unit trust products of Public Mutual. Also claimed trial for the charge of taking for himself a bribe of RM337,500 from another Public Mutual investment agent.

Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim

Faces three counts of bribery involving RM5.2 million linked to road projects in Perak and Kedah, and nine counts of money laundering involving nearly RM140 million.

“The action taken by MACC has been good, especially the high-profile cases. Post GE-14 we saw cases like SRC International and 1Malaysia Development Berhad where the public officials involved have been charged and their cases are ongoing. This includes today’s charging of another former public official.

“This is important for Malaysia as every year we are evaluated in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). For the past 10 years, Malaysia’s ranking has been going down until last year we rebounded by 10 steps. This was because the government at that time placed fighting corruption as its top agenda.

“That’s how they came up with the National Anti-Corruption Plan. Not many countries have a proper plan to fight corruption. I would say Malaysia is probably one of the very few that has a comprehensive plan.

“Even freedom of information, especially seen post GE-14,” contributed to the rebound in the CPI ranking,” he added.

Malaysia scored 51 out of 198 nations in Transparency International’s global CPI ranking.

“When Pakatan Harapan collapsed and the new Perikatan Nasional came into the picture, the scenario has been slightly different. One is because the Covid-19 pandemic was overwhelming and just like the rest of the world, fighting corruption was not top of the agenda until now.

“We will see how the (Lim) trial goes. But overall, if Perikatan Nasional can keep up with the momentum (seen during PH’s time in Putrajaya), going after public officials, that will be a good sign.”

He added if high-profile cases are dropped, it would have an impact on the country’s CPI ranking.

In June, former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman was acquitted and discharged of all 46 criminal charges linked to timber concessions in the state, drawing public outcry.