May 31, 2012
MACC’s Cow Sense–The Malaysian Insider
Here’s a question for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Who accused Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil of being involved in the process of awarding the RM250 million government soft loan to the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) operated by her family?
Short answer, no one. Long answer, not one person ever did.
So, clearing the Wanita UMNO chief of any involvement in the scandal is not even news because she wasn’t accused of that. And if MACC and Shahrizat are crowing about this, they have as much cow sense as the cattle in the Gemas farm.
Let’s be clear why Shahrizat’s name has been dragged into this and the government had to drop her from the Cabinet by not extending her tenure as senator.
Her family is accused of abusing public funds meant for a cattle-rearing project for their own shopping spree of luxury properties in Malaysia and abroad. They had admitted as much, saying the funds were being put to some use while waiting for the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries to do its part of the deal.
Of course, it begs the question whether public funds meant for one project can be used in other ways while waiting for something else to happen. The short answer, no. The long answer, of course not.
MACC operations evaluation panel (PPO) chairman Tan Sri Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil was stating the obvious today when he said that investigations into Shahrizat’s involvement in NFC were now closed.
“We have found she was not involved in the process of awarding the loan,” Hadenan told reporters at a press conference today.
“The decision to award the contract to the company and to award the loan does not involve her,” he added.
Malaysians are just outraged that a company with no experience in cattle farming got the money and instead of working on the project, it used the funds for something else. Because there are farmers out there in Malaysia who could use a bit of that money for their own cattle farms.
Because there are Malaysians out there who get their loan applications rejected even if it is not a government soft loan.
Because it looked like the financial records of the company showed Shahrizat’s family was living the high life from the company that was funded by public money. Perhaps she might have benefited? We don’t know. Because the MACC didn’t look into that.
They just investigated if she had a role in approving the loan. Why would she be involved? Was she in the particular ministry? Was she in the Treasury? Did the matter even come up at any Cabinet meeting where she attended?
Why is the MACC pulling wool over our eyes? Why are they even investigating this aspect which is not even a complaint from anyone?Why is the MACC spending public funds to get its officers to investigate a non-story?
Why do they have cow sense instead of common sense? What is the MACC supposed to do? Will they ever do it?
Today’s conclusion by the MACC just shows how little transformation has happened since the anti-graft agency was upgraded into a commission.They should have been a lot smarter than they revealed themselves to be today.Is there a wonder that people have little faith in the MACC?
MACC Graft Probe on NFC: Just to clear Shahrizat
by Clara Chooi@http://www.themalaysianinsider.com
“The way they investigated it is as if they were merely trying to find a reason to let Shahrizat go. What the MACC needs to prove is that there was no influence whatsoever from Shahrizat that allowed her family to get the contract although they had absolutely zero experience in cattle-farming.”–Rafizi Ramli
The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) was accused today of whitewashing Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil’s National Feedlot Centre (NFC) graft investigation , with PKR’s Rafizi Ramli pointing out that he had not even been questioned by investigators despite being responsible for most of the allegations against the Minister and her family.
Rafizi, the man who led a relentless campaign to expose alleged misappropriation of public funds in the management of NFC, pointed out that he had been the one leading the series of exposes on the NFC since the RM250 million federally-funded cattle funding project hit media headlines late last year.
“Seeing as I was the one who exposed all these issues in the NFC, one has to wonder – why have I not been called in to see the MACC when I have been the loudest in this issue?” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted this afternoon.
Rafizi said that to completely clear Shahrizat’s name, the MACC must now explain why the RM250 million project had been awarded to a company owned by the Wanita UMNO chief’s family members, even though it has zero experience in farming.
He said it was too simplistic to clear Shahrizat just because she had not been directly involved in awarding the contract, saying it was obvious that the former Minister would not have been “so stupid” to sit on the tender committee that decided on the award.
“The way they investigated it is as if they were merely trying to find a reason to let Shahrizat go.What the MACC needs to prove is that there was no influence whatsoever from Shahrizat that allowed her family to get the contract although they had absolutely zero experience in cattle-farming,” he said.
Earlier today, MACC Operations Evaluation Panel (PPO) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Hadenan Abdul Jalil (not related to Shahrizat) revealed that Shahrizat has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the RM250 million NFC scandal, which has been dominating media headlines for months since last year.
Hadenen told reporters the MACC has declared investigations into Shahrizat’s involvement closed after finding that the former Minister had not been directly involved in the process of awarding the loan to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), a company where her husband and children sit as directors.
“The decision to award the contract to the company and to award the loan does not involve her,” he had said.
With the MACC’s decision on Shahrizat, Rafizi said the onus was now on the agency to explain to the public its reason for not taking any further action against the tender committee that had selected the NFCorp to lead the federally-funded cattle farming project.
The committee, pointed out Rafizi, had been chaired by Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the time, and had included then Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is currently Deputy Prime Minister.
“There were six bidders for the project and of all, only one had some experience in farming. The NFCorp, was clearly only set up recently and was not fit to run the project,” he said.
“So the fact that the tender committee chaired by Najib went ahead to award the project to Shahrizat’s family clearly indicates an element of corruption… otherwise, it would be quite difficult to fathom why Najib and the committee was so stupid as to award the project of this magnitude to a company with no experience,” he added.
As such, said Rafizi, it was only “logical” to find the link between the committee and the company in question in order to determine if any corruption was involved in the contract award.
“And the only link between the selected company and Najib and Muhyiddin was Shahrizat,” he said.
Shahrizat, who is the wife of NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail, had been linked to the scandal by PKR because of her husband’s position, and their three children’s directorships in the same firm.
The former Women, Family and Community Development Minister had been questioned by the graft watchdog earlier in February after returning to her ministerial duties.
She had earlier taken three weeks’ leave to allow authorities to investigate claims of abuse of power against both her and her family.
Shahrizat stepped down as Minister after her double-term as senator expired on April 8.
The RM250 million publicly-funded cattle-raising scheme was first coined a “mess” in an article in English daily The Star after it made it into the pages of the Attorney-General’s 2010 Report for failing to meet production targets.
The term was later repeated by other media organisations to describe NFCorp after PKR launched a series of exposés to show that the project’s funds had been allegedly abused.
The company’s assets were frozen after investigations were launched by the Police and the MACC following the revelations.
The 64-year-old was charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code relating to CBT for misappropriating RM9,758,140 from NFCorp’s funds to purchase two condominium units at the One Menerung complex in Bangsar for the National Meat and Livestock Corporation (NMLC) on December 1 and December 4, 2009.
He was also charged under the same section for transferring RM40 million of NFCorp’s funds to the NMLC between May 6 and November 16, 2009.
He was further charged in both cases for using the said funds without any approval from company’s annual general meeting, which is an offence under Section 132 of the Companies Act 1965. If found guilty, he faces between two and 20 years’ imprisonment, whipping, and a fine for the offences under the Penal Code.
Dr. Mohamad Salleh also faces a five-year jail term or RM30,000 fine for the charges proffered under the Companies Act.
He pleaded not guilty to the CBT charge as well as two counts under the Companies Act in the scandal that has opened Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to damaging attacks ahead of elections that must be called by March next year.