2019-12-12 11:04:53  2192927
Zahid's trial and the cancer of corruption
Corruption is like a cancer, and we should weed it out irrespective of whether it is committed by small or big fish.
By Mariam Mokhtar

Now we know why the majority of Umno-Baru and PAS MPs are reluctant to declare their assets, even though parliament approved a motion compelling MPs, their wives and children, to declare their true worth, in July.

The MPs who objected to the asset declaration exercise, probably had something to hide. Disgraced Najib Abdul Razak's trial, and the raids on his residences, including the raid on the home of the former Chairman of Tabung Haji, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, made Aladdin's cave look like a children's piggy bank. Hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of jewellery, watches and handbags, including cash, rivalled the vaults of high street banks.

We had already suspected that many of the Umno-Baru MPs who had opposed the asset declaration are filthy rich. If their assets are worth several million ringgit, they will have difficulty explaining how they achieved their wealth, on the pay of a civil servant.

When the asset declaration motion was announced, Umno-Baru went on the defensive. Some said that they had been in the corporate world, before they entered politics and had become millionaires. Others said that they had saved since they were children. A few claimed that their wealth was a family inheritance.

All said that if they were to declare their assets, they would be targeted by kidnappers and their families safety would be jeopardised. None mentioned bribery and corruption.

Naturally, critics will demand answers. Were the politicians "rewarded" by companies, who were then awarded government contracts worth several hundreds of millions of ringgit? Perhaps, cronies offered sweeteners, for preferential treatment. Others would arrange luxury overseas holidays, for the corrupt politician and their families.

Tenders for uniforms, micro-chips in passports, road repairs, stationery, vehicles and armaments are worth a small fortune, but to the dodgy company, the sweetener to the politician, is just a drop in the ocean - a tiny price to pay, to secure the deal.

On 5 December, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker, Mohamad Arif MD Yusof confirmed that only 160 MPs, mostly from Pakatan Harapan, had declared their assets and that many of the 62 MPs who have yet to declare their assets, were from Umno-Baru, and PAS.

On the same day, Malaysians were given a glimpse into former deputy prime minister, Zahid Hamidi's wealth, during the second week of his trial, in which he faces 47 charges of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT), money laundering and bribery.

It is alleged that RM31 million had been misappropriated from the charity foundation, Yayasan Akal Budi, which was ostensibly set-up to help people who were poverty stricken. Of the money donated to this charity, not one sen had been given to the poor. Zahid and his wife, enjoyed the proceeds.

The irony is that in 2012, Zahid scolded Ambiga Sreenevasan, the then Bersih 2.0 chairman, when she suggested an amnesty and pardon, for those involved in minor corruption cases.

Ambiga said that the country needed to move forward quickly, after a change in power. No-one at the time could predict the result of GE-14, in which Pakatan Haparan wrested power from Umno-Baru/BN.

Zahid, who was the former Defence Minister, had disagreed with Ambiga and said, “She should be aware that minor corruption could lead to major corruption. Corruption is like a cancer. We should weed it out, irrespective of whether it is committed by ‘small fish’ or ‘big fish.’"

Recently, Zahid's corruption trial revealed to us the millionaire lifestyle which he and his wife, Hamidah Khamis, enjoyed. His ill-gotten wealth enraged many Malaysians, because they were told to tighten their belts, during the previous Umno-Baru regime, when Zahid was once the most powerful man in Malaysia, after Najib.

Zahid's trials have shown the excesses of him and his wife. The road tax for the fleet of luxury cars and motorbikes, which they owned, was a staggering RM35,000. The insurance for the vehicles, cost an additional RM70,000.

Most graduates start off with an annual income of RM24,000. Many can't afford a car and although public transport is affordable, it is not very extensive.

Most Malaysians struggle to make ends meet, but Zahid's road tax and insurance payments, would make many wage earners, bristle with anger.

How was he able to afford the luxury vehicles, on his government pay?

Did the MACC close one eye?

Now, we know why Umno-Baru MPs want to hide their true worth.

We agree with him, that corruption is like a cancer that should be weeded out irrespective of whether it is committed by ‘small fish’ or ‘big fish.’

What is the current president of Umno-Baru, Zahid, really worth, and how did he amass his wealth? The big fish are caught, but the ikan bilis can swim free.


1. Free Malaysia Today: Zahid took 39 insurance policies for 20 vehicles, court told
2. MalaysiaKini: Annuar: Zahid's rich, why make vehicle fleet an issue?
3. The Star: MPs agreeable but questions linger
4. Malay Mail: Zahid got rich from business but not worth RM230m, Nazri says
5. Malay Mail: 160 MPs have declared assets, says Dewan Rakyat Speaker
6. Business Insider: All Malaysian MPs will soon have to declare their assets and those who lie could get 3 years in jail: Parliament

(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)

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