IN THE last few days, much has been said about a judgement delivered at a Shah Alam High Court for various charges under the MACC Act and Penal Code. It was ruled that there was no prima facie case as there was no credible evidence proving each ingredient of offence.
There are many lessons that can be learnt based on the judgement by the learned judge.
1. To get a contract with the government or expedite matters, one can write directly to the highest authority i.e. the PM, and it will be minuted.
2. For contract extensions, one can write directly to the minister-in-charge and will get it minuted downwards.
3. We still have diligent civil servants like the deputy chief secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry.
4. Ministers can overrule suggestions made by diligent civil servants.
5. A minister’s minuted comment is not a directive even if it is expedited.
6. Not sure how government machinery works! A policy paper recommending for an extension was to be referred to Unit Kerjasama Awam Swasta (UKAS or PPP Unit) and the cabinet, was prepared a month after a supplementary agreement was signed for said extension.
7. A minister’s private secretary can write directly to any ministry’s chief secretary.
8. Prosecution was not thorough enough - as it did not produce evidence of envelopes, drivers, guards, policemen, phone call logs and messages with accused and important details pursuant to MACC Act and Penal Code.
9. Prosecution relied heavily on witnesses from the “giver’s side” which turned out to not be reliable or credible.
10. Many witnesses themselves maintained luxurious lifestyles.
11. “Receivers” of political donations include serving and former ministers, politicians and government servants. Politicians can get away with political funding but how about government servants?
12. Close to RM240 million was distributed but never reported to tax authorities or auditors and the learned judge said there is sufficient evidence to show criminal offences have been committed. Company filings from 2015 to 2020 showed the company suffered losses for two years and posted small profits on others. Checks with the Companies Commission of Malaysia reveal that the company is wholly owned by one Sdn Bhd company with a paid-up capital of RM100. The company’s total revenue from FY2015 to FY2020 was RM92 million and the ‘ledger’ payouts were close to RM240 million, more than RM70 million to at least 11 politicians - sourced from business partners and sub-contractors in Hong Kong.
If indeed the contract was not lucrative, why the lusty follow-up for a six-year extension?
Given the above, I think many would agree for the following to be the order of the day:
1. Review processes and SOP for contract award and extensions and also review the “financial health” of the company awarded the contract.
2. Avoid political intervention in contract awards and extensions.
3. Revisit minuted comments by ministers to differentiate between directive or “support”. “Support” has to be clearly defined.
4. Approval processes in ministries to be revisited, be clearly defined and eliminate short-cuts or “beating-the-system” where ultimate approval is required by the cabinet.
5. Prosecution teams to be retrained to ensure every aspect of a case is thoroughly reviewed and tested and to leave no stone unturned especially for high-profile cases.
6. Devise a system to test credibility of witnesses especially the main ones.
7. Relevant authorities should investigate the other “receivers” in the ledger as the learned judge said there was sufficient evidence to show criminal offences have been committed.
I am sure public confidence in the judiciary system has been restored and it is now up to the relevant parties going to court to get themselves fully prepared and uphold professionalism.
What say you?
Saleh Mohammed reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.