Thursday, January 05, 2012

Press Statement by Tan Sri Robert Phang: Enough is Enough

Press Statement by Tan Sri Robert Phang: Enough is Enough

by dinobeano

December 31, 2011

Justice of Peace
Chairman – Social Care Foundation


In the past few weeks, the MACC has been very prolific. Many advertorials have been published in the mainstream newspapers of the MACC’s achievements in eradicating corruption. The conviction of former Selangor MB Dato Seri Khir Toyo to 1 year imprisonment seems to boost the MACC’s image.

The MACC blazed the trail again when on December 21, 2011, the MACC announced the arrest of five (5) civil servants for bribery in separate places in Kedah. On Tuesday December 27, 2011, the husband of the ex-CEO of the Iskandar Investment Board (IIB), Mohd Amin Suhaimi, was charged in Johor Bharu for corruption. It seems strange that the ex-CEO herself was not charged. Then on Wednesday December 29, a former IIB senior V-P, Rostam Razali, was fined RM20,000 after he pleaded guilty for abuse of power in disclosing confidential tender price information.

Meanwhile in KL, the Permanent Chairman of Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation (Perkim) Selangor branch who was also the former International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Deputy Rector, Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Ariffin Suhaimi, was charged with two other Perkim members, Dato’ Baharin Baba, 58, and Abas Adam, 60 for Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) by the MACC. The offence was alleged to have happened in the early 2000s.

While all these seem to show that the MACC would have the stamina and resolve to dig at old records to uncover corruption, abuse of power and CBT, the public has not forgotten the persecution of Dato’ Ramli Yusuff, the former Director CCID, and his lawyer, Rosli Dahlan. The public considers this as a fix-up job by former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan and A-G Gani Patail achieved with the collusions of the MACC. Musa Hassan was exposed as an incredible witness which is a legal euphemism for calling him a liar. Because of that, the public considers the MACC as a tool of oppression that would do the bidding of A–G Gani Patail and their political masters.

Thus, some skeptics say that these recent events are merely to allow the MACC to end 2011 on a high note. It is as if the MACC is trying to erase all the bad publicity for causing the deaths of Teoh Beng Hock and customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini while in the MACC’s custody. The outcome of the Royal Commission of Inquiry and the Inquest have not satisfied the public’s thirst for the truth and justice. Rightly or wrongly, that is the public perception. And perception counts if the government of PM Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak is to lead BN to a successful GE 13.

In that regard, I am compelled to raise the two blatant cases involving YB Senator Dato’ Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Minister for Women and Family Development, in the NFC episode and YB Senator Datuk Dr. Awang Adek Hussein, Deputy Minister of Finance, for admitting he received cash into his private accounts but justified it as for political donations towards social program.

Like the rest of the Rakyat, I am astounded and appalled by the reasons given by both these two politicians who were rejected by the Rakyat in GE 12 and had to be smuggled into the Cabinet by back door appointments through Dewan Negara. Their mere presence as Ministers in the Government betrays everything that PM Najib has been saying about winnable candidates. These two were rejected by the Rakyat in GE12 and their involvement in these two scandals will certainly not endear them any closer to the electorates in GE 13.

In the case of Dato’ Seri Shahrizat, the evidence are already in the public domain of the misappropriation of the NFC funds granted for the national cattle project instead being used to purchase luxurious condominiums, super cars and fantastic salaries for Shahrizat’s husband and their children.

The initial statement by the MACC that they only investigate corruption cases and referred the matter to the Police is seen as a feeble attempt to pass the bucket. That was the same thing that happened in the Khir Toyo’s case until I pursued it that led to Khir Toyo being charged. Even so, the Rakyat questioned why Khir Toyo was charged under the Penal Code where the maximum penalty is only 2 years whereas punishments under the MACC Act would extend to 20 years. The Rakyat sees this as a cover up!

In the case of Datuk Dr. Awang Adek, his open admission of having received such monies to fund his own “social” programs actually constitute political gratification. That an offence of corruption has been established could not be clearer. But most worrisome to me is the inability of Awang Adek, as our Finance Minister, to realise that what he had done was wrong. For him to justify his conduct spells doom for the country if our national finance is to be managed by a man of such moral fabric.

I invite the MACC Chief Commissioner, Dato’ Seri Abu Kassim, to deliver to both Shahrizat and Awang Adek the lectures that he had delivered to me when I was on the MACC Advisory Panel about the meaning of gratification. Since I am now pursuing a law degree, for these Ministers’ benefit I reproduce s. 3 on Interpretation in the MACC Act:

"gratification" means-

(a) money, donation, gift, loan, fee, reward, valuable security, property or interest in property being property of any description whether movable or immovable, financial benefit, or any other similar advantage;

For Shahrizat to maintain that her family is justified to get the contracts goes against the provisions of the MACC Act:

23. Offence of using office or position for gratification

(1) Any officer of a public body who uses his office or position for any gratification, whether for himself, his relative or associate, commits an offence.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an officer of a public body shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to use his office or position for any gratification, whether for himself, his relative or associate, when he makes any decision, or takes any action, in relation to any matter in which such officer, or any relative or associate of his, has an interest, whether directly or indirectly.

Let me ask Awang Adek, if he is not the Deputy Finance Minister whether these companies and associates would give him those monies to fund his political programs. The case of Dato’ Harun Idris is on point. That makes it clear that Awang Adek had accepted gratification as defined by s. 16 MACC Act:

16. Offence of accepting gratification

Any person who by himself, or by or in conjunction with any other person--

(a) corruptly solicits or receives or agrees to receive for himself or for any other person; or

(b) corruptly gives, promises or offers to any person whether for the benefit of that person or of another person, any gratification as an inducement to or a reward for, or otherwise on account of--

(A) any person doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction, actual or proposed or likely to take place; or

(B) any officer of a public body doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction, actual or proposed or likely to take place, in which the public body is concerned,

commits an offence.

As a Minister, Awang Adek is a public officer. Thus, his acceptance of such monies into his personal account constitutes bribery:

21. Bribery of officer of public body

Any person who offers to an officer of any public body, or being an officer of any public body solicits or accepts, any gratification as an inducement or a reward for--

(a) the officer voting or abstaining from voting at any meeting of the public body in favour of or against any measure, resolution or question submitted to the public body;

(b) the officer performing or abstaining from performing or aiding in procuring, expediting, delaying, hindering or preventing the performance of, any official act;

(c) the officer aiding in procuring or preventing the passing of any vote or the granting of any contract or advantage in favour of any person; or

(d) the officer showing or forbearing to show any favour or disfavour in his capacity as such officer, commits an offence, notwithstanding that the officer did not have the power, right or opportunity so to do, show or forbear, or accepted the gratification without intending so to do, show or forbear, or did not in fact so do, show or forbear, or that the inducement or reward was not in relation to the affairs of the public body.

Once Awang Adek admitted that he had accepted gratification, then there is a presumption that it is corrupt gratification:

50. Presumption in certain offences.

(1) Where in any proceedings against any person for an offence under section 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22 or 23 it is proved that any gratification has been received or agreed to be received, accepted or agreed to be accepted, obtained or attempted to be obtained, solicited, given or agreed to be given, promised, or offered, by or to the accused, the gratification shall be presumed to have been corruptly received or agreed to be received, accepted or agreed to be accepted, obtained or attempted to be obtained, solicited, given or agreed to be given, promised, or offered as an inducement or a reward for or on account of the matters set out in the particulars of the offence, unless the contrary is proved.

It is abundantly clear that the actions of Shahrizat and Anwang Adek are not defensible. The MACC does itself discredit if it continuously refuse to act with the same speed and efficiency when it involve members of the ruling party. The Rakyat is tired of excuses. In the interest of the BN Government, Shahrizat and Awang Adek should resign and offer themselves for investigation by MACC and other authorities. By resigning, only then can investigations against them be done without the undue influence which cannot be the case if they remain in the Cabinet.

As we celebrate New Year, the Rakyat expect a new resolve by the Government and the MACC. If the fight to eradicate corruption is seen as mere lip service, the Rakyat will rise and teach the government a lesson at the ballot box. Before that happens, I urge the government to wake up to today’s realities before the Rakyat say enough is enough!

Happy New Year 2012!


Tan Sri Robert Phang Miow Sin
Justice of the Peace

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