The untold MAS story: part 1

But it was not Tajudin Ramli who was arrested and charged for fraud and abuse of power. Instead, Ramli Yusuff, the head of the CCD, was arrested and charged for abuse of power and for not declaring his assets.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

In 1994, when Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli took control of MAS through his company, Naluri Berhad, Malaysia’s national airline had a cash reserve in excess of RM600 million. Seven years later, in 2001, when the government bought back MAS for the same price that Tajudin paid, the national airline had accumulated losses in excess of RM8 billion.

What happened to the RM600 million in cash? How did MAS lose as much as RM8 billion over just seven years after showing a profit before that? And why did the government buy back an almost bankrupt airline for the same price that it was sold to Tajudin?

We are talking about a plus of RM600 million down to a minus RM8 billion. Yet there was no discount on the share price. Tajudin got back every cent he paid after ‘bleeding’ the national airline to the tune of almost RM9 billion.

One man decided to launch an investigation into the affairs of MAS to get to the bottom of the whole thing. This man is Datuk Ramli Bin Yusuff, the Director of the Commercial Crime Division (CCD). And this man is now on trial after getting arrested for allegedly abusing his authority and for not declaring his assets.

The basis for launching the investigation was because MAS had earlier made two police reports. The police reports are Dang Wangi Report No. 347/02 dated 4 January 2002 and Dang Wangi Report No. 12532/05 dated 4 May 2005.

The police investigation revealed that MAS had been the victim of fraudulent transactions, breaches of fiduciary duties, and breaches of various statutory duties. And the people guilty of these crimes are Tajudin, his business associates, as well as his family members.

But it was not Tajudin who was arrested and charged for fraud and abuse of power. Instead, Ramli, the head of the CCD, was arrested and charged for abuse of power and for not declaring his assets.

Even before the investigation against Ramli could be launched to establish whether he really did commit any crime as alleged, the Anti-Corruption Agency leaked information to the media that Ramli is guilty of not declaring RM27 million in assets.

Corruption investigations and information related to it come under the Official Secrets Act. How, therefore, could this information be made public when the investigation was still ongoing and nothing had been established yet? It was not known yet whether Ramli had really committed any crime and if so whether the assets he was alleged to have not declared does come to RM27 million. Nevertheless, the details of the investigation were made public as if he had already been proven guilty.

Ramli then engaged a lawyer, Rosli Dahlan, to handle his case and the lawyer submitted a set of accounts to prove that not only does Ramli’s assets not come to RM27 million but also that he had properly declared everything he owns. Furthermore, all his assets had been acquired in the proper and legal way and not through fraud or corruption.

And that was when they also arrested and charged the lawyer for allegedly also not declaring his assets.

Why do they want to shut the lid on the MAS investigation? Why does the government wish to protect Tajudin? Is it maybe because it is not Tajudin who is behind the shady dealings but that he is merely acting as the nominee or front man for those who walk in the corridors of power?

There is more in this series of revelations about how the police officer ends up behind bars while the criminal with links to Putrajaya walks free with billions in his pocket. In the next episode, Malaysia Today will show the confidential reports related to the police investigation.

Invariably, all these confidential reports come under the ambit of the Official Secrets Act. So this means they can now arrest me and send me to jail for the so-called crime of violating the Official Secrets Act. But what choice do I have? I can write my story and be accused of spinning, lying, or of making wild allegations without any evidence to support that allegation. Or I can publish copies of those reports and run the risk of getting hauled in for committing a crime under the Official Secrets Act.

I choose to do the latter.