COMMENT Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s refusal to disclose the identity of the donor of the S$16 million contraband cash seized at the Hong Kong international airport has only heightened suspicion over the web of deceit and cover-up of high corruption in the corridors of power.

NONEHis minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz had on Oct 11 denied in a written reply to Parliament that the cash, amounting to RM40 million, was Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman’s money.

Nazri said it was a donation to Sabah Umno, even though the carrier Michael Chia Tien Foh is a well known personal agent and close associate of Musa.

In a further attempt to dismiss the notion of any impropriety, Nazri said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has concluded that “no element of corruption was proven”.

However, this statement glaringly contradicted MACC’s latest stance on the issue, aired only a few days earlier. 

NONEOn Oct 5, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Shukri Abdull (right): “The investigation against Musa is on corruption and we have completed the investigation, but the panel has instructed us to get more evidence.” 

By “the panel”, Shukri was referring to MACC’s operations review panel, which instructed the operations division to collect further evidence against Musa after being presented with the report on the case at the panel’s last sitting in May.

So how could Nazri claim that MACC has concluded that there was no evidence of corruption?

Obviously, one of the two is lying or, more likely, both are lying, as there is no credibility in what these two gentlemen have said, if we take into consideration the full circumstances.

Nazri is unlikely to have told the truth, as he couldn’t have known more than the MACC head of investigation.

As for Shukri, how serious can we take his word that MACC couldn’t come to a conclusion despite four long years of investigation into a simple case of someone being caught red-handed while smuggling in an enormous sum of laundered cash?   

azlanAfter all, evidence galore in the Internet shows the intricate network of money flow originating from timber corruption in Sabah, with Chia (left) as one of the alleged focal points of the trail, and which ends up in Musa’s personal account in UBS AG in Zurich. 

A flow chart showing these movements complete with account details was produced by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), a copy of which has been conveyed to MACC, according to Sarawak Report website, which has alsoposted the chart

Clandestine operation

It is not difficult to see that the S$16 million incident is only the tip of the iceberg of a  clandestine operation to siphon massive timber corruption money from Sabah.

Apparently, the ICAC had forwarded its findings to MACC and requested for inter-country co-operation to wrap up the case, but this was reportedly blocked by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.

azlanCan the MACC deny that it is in possession of the fruits of ICAC’s laborious investigations into the case including the said money flow chart that conclusively crucifies Musa(left)?

Perhaps the parliamentary select committee on corruption should summon MACC chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed to answer this question.

Adding to the credibility crisis of the duo - Nazri and Shukri - is the blanket denial by Musa of all allegations.

Responding to Sarawak Report’s various allegations that among others, Musa’s two sons studying in Australia regularly received timber kickbacks from bank accounts controlled by Chia, Musa flatly denied these in a written statement on April 12, 2012.

It reads: “I deny all these allegations. I wish to put it on record once again that I have no business association whatsoever with an individual named Michael Chia.”

The denial, however, was contradicted by banks statements produced in the Singapore High Court in a civil suit (Suit No.752 of 2010/N) in June brought by Chia’s former associate and now adversary involving a money dispute.

NONETo defend its position in the dispute, UBS AG produced bank statements that clearly show that Musa’s sons Mohammed Hayssam Musa and Hazem Musa Hazem Mubarak Musa were regular recipients of money remitted from accounts of companies which Chia claimed to be under his control.
These British Virginia registered shady companies with large amounts of unaccounted for cash regularly flowing mysteriously through are obvious vehicles of money laundering.

Thus both UBS AG and Chia, out of the necessity to defend their respective positions, had unwittingly produced in court the evidence that tells us that Musa has told a blatant lie that he has no link whatsoever with Chia.

More than that, these bank documents also corroborate documents in Sarawak Report’s possession (including the flow chart) that regularly surface in its frequent exposure of Musa’s nefarious ventures as the notorious timber baron of Sabah. 

Interestingly, according to Sarawak Report, these secret reports are leaked documents from not only ICAC, but also from MACC, which has carried out a parallel investigation into timber corruption in Sabah, following the arrest of Chia in Hong Kong on Aug 14, 2008 for alleged money smuggling and laundering.

Judging from MACC’s long silence and inaction despite the wealth of evidence of timber corruption in its hands, it is not difficult to visualise the limitations under which it has to operate.

Umno’s self-incrimination

Najib certainly didn’t help matters with his curt refusal to divulge the source or any information that may lessen the gravity of this scandal.  
NONEIn that encounter with the press on Oct 12, he even tried to sanitise this sordid incident by saying “every political party has the right to receive political donation as long as it is done in a proper way”.  He added that the amount of the donation is irrelevant , repeating the proviso that “as long as it is done in a proper way”.

It really boggles the mind to think that the premier could consider such bizarre fashion of conveying donation as “the proper way”.

May we remind him that money smuggling and money laundering are serious criminal offences, for which Chia would have been prosecuted, convicted and jailed and the cash confiscated, if not for the Malaysian government’s refusal to extend cooperation to the Hong Kong authorities.

And since  Chia is only a courier, the master he serves - Umno - is even more guilty.

In any democratic country, law enforcers would have swung into action following the prime minister’s open admission of such association of breach of law; but of course, in Boleh Land, this is business as usual - nothing to make a fuss about?

This latest scandal is only one of many that have been incessantly popping up lately despite the imminence of a crucial election. It only serves to reinforce the hard fact that the self-styled reformist premier’s many “transformations” he has claimed to have wrought are more illusion than substance.

As for his vision of “best democracy” and “developed nation” status in the near future, is it not a land too far to reach?

KIM QUEK is a retired accountant and author of the banned book ‘The March to Putrajaya’.