Returning the loot to thieves – the law is an ass

Ringgit's performance mixed in 2018 mainly due to external factors | Money  | Malay Mail
Pic: Malay Mail

In Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, when the character, Mr Bumble is informed that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction”, Mr Bumble replies: “If the law supposes that, the law is an ass – an idiot.”

Today’s column is not on hen-pecked husbands but what is law perceived and supposed in a couple of make-believe situations.

Supposing I am a crook who has stolen billions from the people. In my possession, I have luxury goods, jewels and hard cash in currencies of different countries which runs into millions.

The long arm of the law caught up with me and my wife. They took away part of the wealth we had accumulated and both have been indicted on several criminal offences and the state has filed civil suits seeking the return of the riches so that it can be added on to its coffers.

In the meantime, the government seeks to forfeit all those ill-gotten riches. So, they go and seek an order from the court so that they get to keep what they had seized.

But the court said that the onus is on the claimant, in this case, the state to prove that I accumulated all the wealth from illicit and illegal activities.

Although it is common knowledge that the wealth was not inherited and neither could I have earned that kind of money during our working lives, the court then tells the state: “Please produce evidence to show that the money was the proceeds from something illegal.”

For a good measure, it meant that if you can’t show proof, they can get to keep everything. Does it mean criminals can keep their loot while the victims weep in pain and suffering? Yes, something like that.

If you are just an ordinary joe with no titles, status or position – past or present – could it be a different story? What if you don’t have a battery of lawyers and the money to fight the forfeiture order?

But before that, probably a public parade in purple or orange for the TV cameras would be the start, and perhaps a week or so incarnated with food and boarding paid by the state.

But wouldn’t any anti-corruption body use its powers to ask you to declare your source of income? Or will the taxman come after you asking you to pay your portion of the wealth in your possession?

If you are a politician, you can always plead: “Your honour, it was a political donation meant for the party.”

Isn’t the law an ass?

Mysterious deposits

Mr A had about RM1 million in a bank in a foreign country and the source of that money was and still remains a mystery.

The money was deposited in small amounts (for whatever reasons) through cash deposit machines that are dotted around that country.

Those who deposited the money were unknown to him and bank officials and as the account starts to swell, an alert bank manager calls the cops.

“I say, mate, there’s some fishy business going on. We are getting dribs and drabs of money and it is being deposited anonymously to one single account. It looks suspicious and could be money laundering,” says the banker.

The account is flagged and the incessant flow of money continues and is keenly watched. A check on the systems shows that Mr A is a senior police officer in his country.

So, a polite note is exchanged between the police chiefs of the two countries. It simply said: “Can you get Mr A to come over and explain things? We just want to elucidate some answers to these mysterious deposits.”

The media in both countries go to town with the story and hopefully, get some truthful answers. The silence became deafening but Mr A’s boss says: “He had explained everything to us. He has a son studying there and opened an account there and the money in that account are proceeds from the sale of his house.”

But isn’t it the usual and proper practice for the buyer to get his solicitor to send the money to his solicitor, who will, in turn, deposit the money in Mr A’s bank account?

But when did he buy the house and where did the money come from? No one knows and the mystery can only be solved if Mr A opens his mouth.

But Mr A didn’t. Neither did he travel or offer any other plausible explanation, and interestingly, he just allowed the money to be forfeited. The parting shot was: “I don’t need it. You can keep my money.”

If it was ordinary joe, there would have been an extradition process, he would be strutted in handcuffs through the offices to the courts and probably put on the next flight, and arrested and charged upon disembarkation for money laundering.

But no, there are different strokes for different folks.

Isn’t the law an ass?

R NADESWARAN looks at two imaginary scenarios, interprets, analyses and draws his own conclusions.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

A ‘wanted’ bulletin titillates but is at ominous notice?

How Clare Rewcastle Brown Uncovered Malaysia's 1MDB Scandal | Time
Photo: Time Magazine

The movement control order (MCO) imposed in March last year saw the end of live shows. Musicians and stand-up comedians including Jason Leong, Harith Iskander, Alan Perera and the like resorted to online rib-tickling episodes with their wit and humour.

Now, unwittingly and perhaps inadvertently, the police have joined in providing “fun” but not the much-needed comic relief.

Malaysians have been amused by a public appeal – complete with a “wanted” poster – for information on the Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, following an arrest warrant issued against her in September.

I am amused because she was in the news two days ago. If the police aren’t already aware, she is in London and by referring to recent media reports, they would have confirmed her location.

On Tuesday, she spoke at a virtual forum hosted by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Freedom Film Network (FFN) and Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) in conjunction with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

Last night, she declared that the police had previously texted her directly and the authorities knew “all there is to know”, including details of her whereabouts.

This was after Bukit Aman CID chief Abd Jalil Hassan’s appeal to the public for information on Rewcastle-Brown, who had failed to appear in court to face a charge of defaming Sultanah Nur Zahirah of Terengganu.

“If they hope someone will ring up with dirt about me, they will be disappointed as I live a very boring but happy life. They should focus on crooks who are stealing from Malaysia. So, they could pick up the phone and call me, and I can inform them,” she was quoted as saying.

Then, the question to be asked is: Why all this charade? Do the police expect ordinary Malaysians to know her whereabouts or is it for other plausible reasons?

It is common knowledge that she is based in London and there’s little those sitting 10,000km away in Malaysia can offer.

She is neither in the local speaking circuit nor is she anywhere in the region. If the police had been resourceful, they would have gotten all the details in the court documents she filed in her defence against a suit brought by PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang.

Last night, she also gave her itinerary to Malaysiakini – moderating a seminar on the “timber mafia” on Monday at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow; attending a press freedom event in London on Nov 21 and attending another event at the UK Parliament the following week where she will also be discussing press freedom.

So, will a team of officers be jumping on the next flight to London considering the importance and urgency paid to know her whereabouts?

Then, we also have to ask if we are getting our laughs in instalments to tickle our funny bones?

What about the known crooks?

One, two days ago, Jalil insisted the police will continue pursuing the extradition of transgender entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman, despite the latter being granted asylum in Australia.
Is it an exercise in futility? The Australian government has granted her asylum and that is the end of the matter.

By the way, cross-dressing and religious offences matter little when such requests are made.

But then, the relationship between the police of Malaysia and Australia is not exactly top-notch.

Remember the case of the police officer who was suspected of being involved in money laundering and forfeited almost RM1 million in an Australian bank?

One of Malaysia’s highest ranking police officers forfeited A$320,000 (about RM1 million) by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which suspected his Sydney bank account held laundered money or proceeds of crime.

Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd claimed the money was proceeds from the sale of a house but did not explain the flurry of suspicious cash deposits. Unknown depositors visited branches and ATMs around Australia and deposited cash in small amounts.

But the million ringgit question is: After all these years, why hasn’t such a bulletin been issued for the most wanted man – Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, who is wanted for stealing billions of ringgit from Malaysians?

Why have there been no similar bulletins for his accomplices Casey Tang and Jasmine Looi? Ditto for other 1MDB officials who are in hiding.

It has been more than seven months since a 33-year-old who is wanted for organised crime, money laundering, Macau scams and commercial crime cases escaped a police dragnet. Nicky Liow is still missing although about 70 of his associates, including police officers, were rounded up.

Then, police have yet to locate Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, who has an arrest warrant issued by the High Court in 2014. He is being sought after having unlawfully taken away his daughter from the lawful custody of her mother.

So, is it the season for more such “wanted” posters and bulletins or have some sections of the population been made to believe that “foreign villains” are trying to destroy Malaysia?

This was the mantra sung at the height of the revelations of the 1MDB scandal and almost succeeded until the can of worms was opened.

R NADESWARAN is tickled yet surprised over the turn of events and wonders if it is a precursor to the bad old days.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Timah and the auditor-general’s report

Photo: The Vibes

The government, its leaders, some lawmakers, and a section of our population, please take a bow. You have shown the world that in difficult times, a modification of the phrase “Keep calm and carry on” can do wonders.

By replacing just two words, “carry on” to “divert attention”, even the most problematic issues can be put on the back burner while making way for trivial issues to be in the forefront.

Isn’t it an irony that at a time when the auditor-general warns the country that we are digging one hole after another just to fill the holes dug up in the yesteryears, politicians are trivialising a hitherto unknown brand of whiskey?

To put it colloquially, it is a case of “hutang sampai mati” (in debt until death) and yet the system pays scant attention to this gigantic problem.

Doesn’t anyone worry that Malaysians will have to carry the debts in perpetuity – generation after generation – while some decision-makers earn enough to last several generations?

Isn’t it an irony we are now understanding the mindset of lawmakers on both sides?

The latest salvo by one politician that “drinking Timah whiskey is akin to drinking a Malay woman” must be the crème la crème of the crop.

How she came to that conclusion deserves a doctoral thesis but when does this farce end?

Aren’t Ramly burgers and Dutch Lady milk synonymous with Malaysian consumers?

Aren’t we supposed to lather ourselves in the bath with Zaitun and use it “tanpa was was” (without any doubts)? Or have kacip fatimah in our food?

Yet, the attention paid to the amber liquid whose customer base is the minority community has far superseded the importance and significance of the national debt and other disclosures by the auditor-general.

Was this all pre-planned because of an important event in Malacca later this month?

Is it a case of declaring that “I am holier than thou”? Or are these efforts to conceal other adversities facing the nation and its leadership?

Isn’t it an irony when the auditor-general’s warning about financial non-compliance is ignored by the powers-that-be but diversionary tactics are used to overlook one sham after another that surfaces?

No check and balance
Auditor general Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid said there were RM510.49 million in irregular payments, of which RM499.19 million involved maintenance service claims without being verified at the National Security Council (NSC) level.
What sort of checks and balances do we have?

Weren’t the government’s financial orders breached? Who allowed this to happen?
Not to worry. They have better issues to think about.

The land of Hang Tuah beckons and there’s the whiskey “tin” to keep the minds of the people elsewhere.

For good measure, the auditor-general said: “To enable corrective action and improvements to be taken, the auditor-general has submitted 29 recommendations, namely four recommendations for verification of financial statements and 25 recommendations for compliance audits of federal ministries and departments, to be considered for implementation by ministries and departments.”

Wouldn’t it surprise anyone if such recommendations are put in a steel cabinet in the Putrajaya to gather dust? How many such recommendations were made by previous auditor-generals?

Have they been complied with? If they had, we would not have been in this mess in the first place.

Expressions of concern over issues that would put the country’s economy in a backspin are considered words in the wilderness as corruption, thefts, and leaks go on unabated.

While the foot-dragging over the Pandora Papers and related issues are in the public domain, isn’t it an irony that four ministries were involved in “negotiations” with the manufacturers of the whiskey to consider changing its brand name?

If only the same amount of latitude and importance had been given to at least one issue raised by the auditor-general, some money would have ended up in the coffers of the Treasury.

However, it will also be good to know the compensation package offered to the brand for its goodwill, marketing, and related issues.

So, we are back to the good old “bad” days when the Treasury was raided at random whenever the need arose. When will the government start thinking of financial prudence and cost-cutting?

While citizens are told to tighten their belts, this appears not to be applicable to the officialdom, some politicos, and their cronies.

Don’t we have people of integrity in the government or have we already mined the base?

People come first?

So, where do we go from here? Malacca is on the top of the pile. Power is the priority, people come second.

Don’t believe all those slogans of “working for the people” or “people come first.” It is winning at all costs even if it means subsidising the cost of consumer products.

Is this the best we can find among our ranks?

Thieves and felons roam the corridors of power to look for what is available. There’s plenty on offer. With so much leeway and freedom to loot, what’s there to stop them?

We have seen fat cats in government-linked companies and incompetent people in government agencies who have neither the knowledge nor the expertise to carry out the tasks before them.
The “kissing trains” episode should constantly remind us about round pegs in square holes.

There has been doctoring of proceedings, theft from the vaults of the MACC, squandering of money meant for the poor, back-handers, and kickbacks. Will anything surprise Malaysians anymore?

R NADESWARAN feels that every right-thinking Malaysian has reasons to feel angry and disgusted at the current happenings.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Probe on ‘fake notes’ must be independent

Photo: Focus Malaysia

“Based on new findings (obtained) through Noor Ehsanuddin’s new (defence) statement, the accused successfully proved that he had paid back the sum in question BEFORE (emphasis is the writer’s) the start of the (initial) investigation. A key witness also confirmed the matter (money) as advances.”

MACC statement, Sept 6

ACAB views there are shortcomings in the investigation; and the decisions by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in early February 2019 and the MACC management and administration at the time was made without a comprehensive consideration. Because of actions at the time that was not transparent, unprofessional and leaned towards political interests, the MACC management today has to bear its consequences.

MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee (ACAB) chairperson Abu Zahar Ujang, Sept 7

These two statements made in relation to the withdrawal of 29 charges of corruption against former Felda board member Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid on May 21 were unpalatable, unaccepted and at the worse irrational and ridiculous.

In two commentaries published two weeks ago, I asked a loaded question: Is it legal and acceptable for any person to accept gratification and later repay the money and call it “advances” to escape prosecution?

No answers have been forthcoming from the MACC or ACAB chairperson Abu Zahar Ujang.

But what happens if the MACC officers allegedly involved in the missing millions offer the same defence used by Noor Ehsanuddin under Section 62 of the MACC Act?

So, if they return or replace the allegedly stolen money, wouldn’t it be a case of what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander?

But lawyers say such a defence is not available to them as in this case, it is theft of public money and not a bribe or laundering of money.

That’s assuring indeed but it is debatable and arguable as legal opinions defer depending on which side you are representing.

Since the investigations are being carried out by the MACC itself, will it not prejudice the case?

The rules of natural justice state that in making a decision, there should be no bias in the person making the decision as he or she must act impartially when considering the matter, and must not have any relationships with anyone that could lead someone to reasonably doubt their impartiality.

Similarly, the same can be said of investigations as there is always a likelihood of bias when investigating wrongdoing by a colleague, a friend or a family member. To dispel any notions of doubts on impartiality, it is imperative that an “outsider” – someone totally unconnected – be involved in the investigations.

In the past, many files had been closed and marked as “no further action” (NFA) for various reasons. What happens when the customary “not enough evidence” is offered to allow them to go free? What happens when they use another claim that “witnesses were not cooperative”?

In this case, it has been reported that counterfeit notes were used to replace the stolen greenbacks but where did these notes originate from? What happens when this source suddenly becomes untraceable?

No police report made

Whatever “independent investigation” put forward by MACC chief Azam Baki is utter bunkum and he must give a plausible explanation as to why a police report was not made on the commission of a criminal offence as soon as it was discovered.

Shouldn’t the Riot Act be read to Azam and shouldn’t this charade and promises of “independent” investigations be stopped as a police report is mandatory.

Section 202 of the Penal Code states: Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed, intentionally omits to give any information respecting that offence which he is legally bound to give, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or a fine or both.

But must there be a report before the police start investigations? The answer is “no” as in many court cases, we have come across police officers testifying that they made the report after reading articles in the media.

In short, the investigation must not only be independent but seen to be independent.

So, why are the police dragging their feet? But I could be wrong because there is yet another twist to this whole affair.

On Tuesday, Free Malaysia Today quoted Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Abd Jalil Hassan as saying that “relevant information will be obtained from the owner of the blog – Edisi Siasat – to assist in the investigation.”

“We are also tracking down the operator of the blog site to obtain information and conduct further investigations and the act of disseminating and transmitting untrue information is wrong and can be investigated,” he said.

Untrue information?

Surely the police have better things to investigate because a statement subsequently from the MACC confirmed the arrest of three officers and that they had been remanded for a week. A case of shooting the messenger?

Now, let us look at another scenario: The alleged perpetrators plead guilty as charged before a judge. The prosecutor will read out the facts of the case given to him by the investigating officer or the deputy public prosecutor in the MACC office.

In this scenario, wouldn’t certain important issues be purposely omitted to protect the weaknesses which led to the theft?

What would have been the role of minor players like officers holding the keys to the secured room where valuable exhibits are stored? Isn’t there a logbook in which removal of exhibits is maintained? So many other questions will remain unanswered.

Some may conclude that these observations are conspiracy theories but I beg to differ. These are probabilities that must be anticipated.

There have been calls for Azam to go on garden leave to allow a truly independent police team but will he?

R NADESWARAN is closely following the saga of the missing millions in the custody of the MACC and hopes its head honcho does the right thing.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

What will it take to end MACC’s endless woes?

Photo: MalayMail

On July 27, 2015, representatives from civil society groups gathered in Putrajaya to deliver a memorandum outlining proposals to strengthen the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act.

That 21-page document was prepared by the Malaysian Bar, in collaboration with the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), Citizens’ Network for a Better Malaysia (CNBM), and Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M).

But it was an exercise in futility. In the morning, Bernama issued a statement quoting the then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa as saying that Abdul Gani Patail’s services as the attorney-general were terminated early due to the latter’s “health problems”.

Almost immediately, the three top guns in the MACC were replaced and it marked the week of the long knives – the darkest period in Malaysia’s fight against corruption. Any and every civil servant, especially enforcement officers who had knowledge about the wheeling and dealing in 1MDB and related agencies, were forced to clear their desks.

That document from the civil society was delivered but it suffered like other evidence – untouched and ignored.

While there were a series of exposés by the media – local and foreign – on what the government of the day under Abdul Najib Razak was covering up, it was not until the court cases began in 2019 that Malaysians understood the reasons behind the black operation to get rid of top graft busters.

The change of government in May 2018 saw the return of former MACC deputy chief Mohamad Shukri Abdull to helm the commission and after him, lawyer Latheefa Koya for a short spell.

But following another change of government in 2020, a raft of criminal charges was withdrawn and as expected, many read into these actions and the MACC, being the investigating body, bore the blame. When civil servants escaped with fines, MACC was seen to be influenced by the social status and political hierarchy of the perpetrators.

Hence, it was the assumption that the prosecution did not push for custodial sentences.

Other ominous signs began to appear. It is difficult to fathom how low a once acclaimed and highly-respected institution has dropped.

The MACC has transcended into an organisation which is now making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Its series of howlers has now become the perfect example to illustrate the idiom “it never rains but it pours.”

This month, it has been besieged with issues starting with the withdrawal of 27 charges against Felda director Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid. When confronted for an explanation, MACC said that the “bribe had been returned before investigations started”.

Then came the muddle which did more damage – the MACC advisors claiming that investigations were “unprofessionally conducted and were influenced by political considerations.”

But the key question remained unanswered: Is it legal and acceptable for any person to accept gratification and later repay the money and call it “advances” to escape prosecution?

Yesterday’s announcement by the MACC chief Azam Baki that three of its officers had been remanded was stale news.

The remand took place one week ago – last Tuesday, Sept 14, to be exact, and the matter was hushed up until the news appeared in a blog, Edisi Siasat, on Saturday.

Within these events lies the only certainty in this desperate affair – an apparent attempt at covering up the case of the missing money; a lot of money, at least RM6 million.

The money was from the case of former Malaysia External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) chief Hasanah Abdul Hamid who stood trial for criminal breach of trust involving a sum of RM50.4 million belonging to the government. In April, she was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal during her trial.

Already, there are accusations of cloak and dagger operations to protect the guilty.

Among others, the blog claimed that one of the alleged perpetrators is a close aide of Azam and hence it became an internal investigation.

Indeed, a riveting story is to be told when and if it goes to court, and the MACC’s tattered image is likely to turn the worst way imaginable.

In Parliament yesterday, Puchong MP Gobind Singh rightly raised two pointed questions: Theft falls under the jurisdiction of the police and not the MACC. So why is MACC the one making the arrest and detention? This involves MACC officers. Is the MACC going to investigate itself?

Newspaper publisher, former MACC advisory panel member and head of Rasuah Busters, an anti-corruption platform, Hussamuddin Yaacub called on Azam to accept responsibility for the debacle and resign and allow a special police team to investigate the alleged theft.

As Malaysians begin to digest the course of events, shenanigans and goings-on in the MACC, it will be a good time to have a re-look at the civil society proposals which must be gathering dust in either the AG’s Chambers or the MACC headquarters.

With MPs now in the mood to propose private member’s bills, will some caring lawmaker take up the cause for a better Malaysia? We need a MACC that is helmed by people of integrity, and one which is totally independent and apolitical.

R NADESWARAN is a veteran journalist who has written extensively on governance issues including corruption.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Now MACC is pinning blame on its own officers

Pic: The Rakyat Post

The saga of the Felda director whose corruption case made headlines for the past four days took yet another murky twist – the MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee (ACAB) declared that its own officers acted “unprofessionally and were influenced by political considerations.”

The revelation is a slap in the face for hundreds of honest MACC officers (present and past) who carry out their responsibilities without fear or favour. Besides, this has caused a serious dent on MACC’s image and independence which the commission touts brazenly. And now, critics have every reason to shout: “I told you so”.

To put matters in the right perspective, this is a brief re-cap of the events:

  • In 2019, Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on 14 charges of accepting a bribe of RM23,540.68 in instalment payments for a BMW 3 Series car from a printing company, Karya Hidayah Sdn Bhd, in 2014 and 2015.
  • In the Johor Bahru court, he faced 10 charges including receiving a bribe of RM50,000 and a piece of land from the same company in 2013 and 2014. He was also charged in the Shah Alam Sessions Court with five counts of accepting the maintenance of two vehicles and the legal fee payment of RM12,707.60 for the purchase of a piece of land.
  • On May 21, the MACC withdrew all charges. On Sept 2, belatedly, his counsel, Hasnal Rezua Merican explained: “This came about after the MACC investigated the defence’s statement under Section 62 of the MACC Act and was satisfied that all transactions made as stated in the charges were advances that had been fully repaid.”
  • On Sept 6, the MACC issued a statement, which among others, said: “Based on new findings (obtained) through Noor Ehsanuddin’s new (defence) statement, the accused successfully proved that he had paid back the sum in question before the start of the (initial) investigation. A key witness also confirmed the matter (money) as advances.”

Yesterday, the same mantra was repeated in a statement by ACAB chairperson Abu Zahar Ujang, who said: “Following explanations from MACC’s top brass, the committee found that the decision to drop charges against Noor Ehsanuddin was due to new facts that emerged only after he had been charged in court.”

As I had argued in my column on Tuesday, the “real” issue is the reason advanced by the MACC on its decision to withdraw charges, which many found unacceptable.

The question was and still is: Does the repayment or reimbursement of monies paid as a bribe towards the instalment of the car absolve the accused of any liability?

For example, one pays for a civil servant’s monthly travel pass for over two years in exchange for favours. When the latter gets wind of impending investigations into the arrangement, he pays a lump sum and asks that the monies be treated as advances. Both would certainly be guilty.

Even if there was evidence that the monies had been repaid, the mere act of accepting gratification is an offence.

If at the material time of investigations (in 2019), there was no evidence of repayment (which only emerged in a subsequent defence statement), how does it make it “unprofessional or influenced by political considerations”?

AGC must explain too

For good measure, the Attorney General’s Chambers has been drawn into this fiasco.

Abu Zahar said: “The ACAB views there are shortcomings in the investigation; and the decisions by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in early February 2019 and the MACC management and administration at the time was made without a comprehensive consideration.”

What is meant by “without comprehensive consideration”? What were the shortcomings? If they were so monumental and crucial to the case, how did the AGC give the sanction to prosecute?

According to Abu Zahar, “new facts emerged only after he (Noor Ehsanuddin) had been charged” but that was hardly unprofessional. It was not that there was no case in the first place, but how and where did “political considerations” come in?

It is not for the public to get involved in word games and puzzles to try and decipher the cryptic messages emanating from MACC. There’s much more that is being hidden from the public. Unless the committee and the management are willing to have an open discussion on this issue, the people will always be suspicious of the motives of MACC’s actions or inaction in certain cases.

By the way, Abu Zahar and his committee have not addressed the elephant in the room: Is it legal and acceptable for any person to accept gratification and later repay the money and call it “advances” to escape prosecution?

R NADESWARAN says the latest turn of events has left a bad taste in the mouths of right-thinking Malaysians whose confidence in MACC will be somewhat diminished.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Withdrawal of charges fails to pass the smell test

Photo: Malay Mail

The process is simple. Whichever tool you use, either by counting ice-cream sticks (as we did in our pre-school days), by mental arithmetic or with an electronic calculator, the result of adding two and two is always four.

But the answer to the same arithmetic question provided by the MACC and by extension, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), is 3.99.
In addition, there’s a game of “before” and “after” being played out by the principals involved in perhaps an imaginary parody of “Who wants to be a millionaire?”

Didn’t catch the drift? The explanation given for the withdrawal of 29 bribery charges against former Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) board of directors member, Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid, in modern lingo amounts to the same – it does not compute.

Last Wednesday, Malaysiakini quoted a Bernama report saying: “His counsel Hasnal Rezua Merican, when contacted, said the prosecution informed the court of the withdrawal of the 29 charges during case proceedings before Sessions Court judge Suzana Hussin on May 21.

“Actually, the date (May 21) was set for the continuation of the case hearing but the prosecution informed the court on withdrawing all the charges against the accused.”

Quite strange that a decision made almost four months ago only surfaced last week, but it’s a moot point.

“This came about after the MACC investigated the defence’s statement under Section 62 of the MACC Act and was satisfied that all transactions made as stated in the charges were advances that had been fully repaid.,” Hasnal was quoted as saying.

[Section 62 states: Once delivery of documents by the prosecution pursuant to Section 51a of the Criminal Procedure Code has taken place, the accused shall, before commencement of the trial, deliver the following documents to the prosecution:
(a) a defence statement setting out in general terms the nature of the defence and the matters on which the accused takes issue with the prosecution, with reasons; and
(b) a copy of any document which would be tendered as part of the evidence for the defence.]

Before and after

The MACC attempted to placate an angry public and in a statement yesterday explained: “Based on new findings (obtained) through Noor Ehsanuddin’s new (defence) statement, the accused successfully proved that he had paid back the sum in question BEFORE (emphasis is the writer’s) the start of the (initial) investigation. A key witness also confirmed the matter (money) as advances.”

Now, now, please do tell us that the MACC is not giving ideas to the corrupt and the dishonest that if they return the dirty money once they get a whiff of an investigation, they can get away scot-free!

Please do also tell us that a bribe, a kickback, a back-hander, or whatever you call it, remains a bribe and returning it does not absolve one from being prosecuted.

What is more intriguing is that the MACC decided to charge Noor Ehsanuddin AFTER they completed their investigations and found that no restitution or refund of the money had been made.

For the record, in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, Noor Ehsanuddin, 58, faced 14 charges of accepting a bribe of RM23,540.68 in instalment payments for a BMW 3 Series car, from a printing company, Karya Hidayah Sdn Bhd in 2014 and 2015.

In the Johor Bahru court, he faced 10 charges including receiving a bribe of RM50,000 and a piece of land from the same company in 2013 and 2014.

He was also charged in the Shah Alam Sessions Court with five counts of accepting the maintenance of two vehicles and the legal fee payment of RM12,707.60 for the purchase of a piece of land.

Wouldn’t Joe Public wonder why despite thorough investigations, MACC failed to find an iota of evidence on the payback BEFORE the charges were proffered?

Surely, procedures would have necessitated the investigators to check with the printing company and recorded witness statements from its officials BEFORE submitting to the AGC for sanction to prosecute.

Only AFTER the AGC is satisfied that there is a case to answer (and all loopholes covered) will the suspect be charged in court. The MACC does not have powers of prosecution and refers all matters “upstairs” for a decision.

Now, even if we were to believe the MACC, who has told us that the accused had made payments BEFORE investigations started, the obvious retort colloquially would be: “Do you have half-past six investigators or have they been sleeping on the job?”

If at the time of investigations, no proof of such repayments was made but we have been told that AFTER the defence submitted a “new” witness statement under Section 62 of the MACC Act, the whole scenario changed.
The instalments for the BMW were made in 2014 and 2015 and came to light during MACC’s investigations.

Even it was settled a day BEFORE or much earlier, the probe started, can the accused be absolved of the charge of accepting bribe?
What does the Oversight Panel of the MACC have to say about this “oversight” or whatever you call it?

None, because its terms of reference restrict their powers to cases which are classified as “No Further Action (NFA)” and investigations which have been dormant for more than a year.

Wouldn’t another level of checks and balances be introduced to allow cases to be reviewed by this panel before they are withdrawn and incur the wrath of the people?

R NADESWARAN says speaking from the heart does not make him unpatriotic or un-nationalistic or a lesser Malaysian.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Be yourself tomorrow – just flinch and baulk

Embrace true meaning of Merdeka -
Photo: Twentytwo13

Tomorrow is a public holiday. It is a day to mark the 64th year of independence. Period. The day is to get your car washed; buy groceries or go to the market; watch special programmes on TV. Nothing more.

The sloganeering, the rhetoric, the patriotism, unity and togetherness are secondary. This annual observation (read: holiday) is a front for pretenders, hypocrites and those apple-polishing politicians who believe what they say will end years of “my race is mightier than yours” and “my religion rules supreme over all others”.

It is not something new.

They talk about religious tolerance but not acceptance; they talk of a nation for all but not a nation of all. They talk about unity in one breath and scream ketuanan in another.

Bangsa Malaysia remains a pipedream and anyone promoting it should be asked: “What have you been smoking?”

The divide is so deep-rooted and even without the cajoling by self-serving politicians, it continues to go grow deeper, diving into an already a divided nation.

1Malaysia (1MDB will be easier to recall!) coined by the convicted felon has metamorphosised into Keluarga Malaysia with the interceding Abah and Makcik Kiah still in the pupa.

So, will raising the flag once a year immediately instil a new form of patriotism, just like instant noodles?

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin to give TV address amid calls to quit

Yes, radio and television stations – both public and private – are pounding the messages. Yes, many are listening or watching, perhaps because they are interspersed with their favourite Tamil or Korean serial or at halftime of live football matches or news bulletins. But are the messages absorbed? What do they signify?

Is raising the flag at the gate of your house or office is the only way to show patriotism? What purpose does it serve when the next moment you go into an expletive-laden racist attack on your neighbour because he has parked his car in front of your entrance?

Do all these messages mean anything to hundreds of cyber troopers on the payroll of politicians who stir hatred and contempt with their own provocative and divisive messages? Or do they mean anything to the paymasters themselves? For many of them, the end justifies the means.

A week ago, there was some hope. A new prime minister, we had hoped, would introduce fresh faces who will bring in fresh ideas. But last Friday, our hopes landed with a thud and melted in the air. A recycled cabinet devoid of any concepts or notions is what we got.

Have we scrapped the bottom of the barrel? Is this all the talent we have? Or has political expediency superseded all other considerations?

The rent-seekers and cronies will continue to flourish, expecting handouts from new sources because any cut to money means having to change lifestyles. No more RM600 cigars; no more designer T-shirts or even taking a new wife.

The theme (whatever that means) for tomorrow’s holiday is Malaysia Prihatin. We seem to be fixated by the word “prihatin”, which means concerned or cares. But does the government or anyone in government actually care?

Some are busy making videos promoting themselves instead of the cause. Kerepek and curry mee have got celebrity endorsements but is this what we expect of our leaders?

Some demean the learning of English and yet are comfortable falling on their feet by sending out their messages in well-designed posters but blinded by improper use of the language. Are these the people who are going to lead us?

A thousand deaths over three days last week are grim reminders of how the government handled the Covid-19 pandemic. Friday marked the 10th day out of the previous 14 where there were more than 20,000 new cases. Doesn’t this say something?

The warm water cure and the Spanish fly lecture may be behind us, but let these be a constant reminder of the quality of the leaders.

There is a glimmer of hope, though. The new health minister’s hands-on approach in testing and vaccination brought some tangible results. The stance that “the government knows best” has ended.

The consultation process with all stakeholders is expected to be the frontrunner in the fight to return the country to normalcy but lurking in the shadows will be hidden hands for contracts and supplies.

Walking through the quagmire as a principled and no-sense man is not going to be an easy task. The minister must be aware of the dangers within, some sharpening their knives (or keris) to thrust if they do not get their shares of the spoils.

We have had so many religious and cultural festivals which were public holidays. The only option was to stay at home, say your prayers and hope for the best.

Is there any reason to rejoice, celebrate or revel tomorrow? If we do, the leaders who fought for self-rule more than six decades ago will cringe, grovel and turn in their graves.

R NADESWARAN says speaking from the heart does not make him unpatriotic or un-nationalistic or a lesser Malaysian.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.