By Mariam Mokhtar
Malaysians know that corruption is alive and thriving among their ministers, but despite what the general public think, recent events and investigations are proving us wrong.
On 14th September, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) cleared the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Rina Harun of corruption, because she had managed to settle huge debts and prevented herself from being declared bankrupt.
Rina had been sued by Paris-based film company Sarl Novovision for debts amounting to over RM1.34 million. At the time, she had declared her assets to be worth around RM72,000.
Naturally, most people were curious as to how she had managed to settle her debts within 15 months.
It would have been impossible for Rina to amass the settlement money from her monthly salary even if she had been surviving on bread and water. So, why were the public not told how her debt was settled? She is a public official. Where is the transparency?
The Harapan-Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh had asked Ismail Sabri in parliament about the status of the investigation into the allegations of corruption on Rina’s settlement of her debts.
He told Yeoh the investigation was over; no element of corruption had been found, and Rina had been cleared of the charges.
One would have thought that an explanation, however simple, about the source of her income to settle her debt would have been revealed. For most people, Rina’s case is a resurgence of the previous Umno-Baru regime.
Recently, many ministers who have allegedly been accused and subsequently been investigated for corruption have, more or less, been cleared by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). How come?
Only one person, the convicted criminal Najib Abdul Razak, was found guilty by the High Court, of all seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in the RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd.
The guilty verdict was delivered in July 2020, but today even that charge looks unlikely to remain.
In the past week, Ismail, for reasons of his own, has held discussions with Najib, and would like to tap his expertise in reviving the ailing Malaysian economy.
Malaysians are aware that the convicted felon should be sitting in jail whilst his appeal goes through the courts. That is how the legal system is supposed to work, given that we inherited the British legal system. Instead, we may find Najib’s ministerial powers restored.
In July 2021, one of Najib’s former top lieutenants, Adnan Mansor, who was also the former secretary-general of Umno-Baru, was absolved of all corruption charges when his earlier conviction was quashed by an appellate court.
It appears that anyone who happens to be Najib’s close associate is let off.
In June 2020, former chief Minister of Sabah Musa Aman was fully acquitted and all the 46 charges of corruption and money laundering from allegedly corrupt timber concession contracts in Sabah were dropped.
There are several other cases pending in the courts, but at this rate, the rakyat will be wondering if valuable resources have been spent aimlessly prosecuting allegedly corrupt ministers who are then freed, or found clear of corrupt allegations either by the courts or by the MACC.
The rakyat are confused. For decades, they have seen allegedly corrupt ministers get away with some of the most heinous of crimes. They may have tried to bring the corrupt to justice but failed miserably.
We saw how ministers and previous leaders abused the nation and the people by undermining democracy. Despite their complaints, Malaysians had to tolerate the lack of transparency in the governance of the nation. Many of the institutions which are supposed to provide the checks and balances failed to live up to their reputations.
Right up until 2018, when Pakatan Harapan won GE14, Malaysians knew that corruption was increasing and worsening among their leaders, ministers and civil servants.
The leaders had an insane craving to remain in power in perpetuity. The nation’s economies were abused and only the leaders’ cronies and family members profited from the system. All the nation’s wealth was kept within their circle.
With PH’s triumph in 2018, the rakyat felt a sense of relief. The corrupt would finally face the music and many wrongs could be righted; but as we have recently seen, it appears that our wishes for good governance are unraveling.
If the MACC keeps clearing ministers of corrupt acts, then it is only natural that many of us wonder if the MACC is turning a blind eye to corruption.
Malaysians may be weary of the various tricks that Umno-Baru, PAS and Bersatu have up their sleeves; but come GE-15, the rakyat will retaliate.
- TheVibes.com: Rina cleared of corruption: Ismail Sabri
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)