It’s beginning to get interesting

One interesting thing in this whole matter, however, is that the latest corruption case involves a payment of RM169,700 made to Ummi Hafilda Ali. Now, was this one of the many pay-offs to Ummi Hafilda, the person central to the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy I case?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

When Annuar Musa, the one-time Umno Kelantan Chief, became a minister back in the 1990s, there was a lot of talk in town about corruption in the ministry he headed. His own political secretary, Chekgu Din, resigned and told us about the shenanigans and how disgusted he was with Annuar Musa’s blatant acts of corruption.

Basically, Annuar Musa’s job was to grab back Kelantan, which had fallen to PAS-Semangat 46, and he was supposed to use his ministry, Rural Development, in achieving this. But the money he spent went into his own pocket, not to the kampong folks.

Annuar Musa was eventually removed and replaced with the new Umno Kelantan Chief, Mustapa Mohamed. Annuar Musa was never charged for any crime, just replaced as a minister as well as the Umno Kelantan Chief.

Invariably, someone had to be punished for all the corruption in the ministry and they chose to charge the secretary-general of the ministry, Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Muhammad.

Datuk Aziz was charged for ‘abetting’ a crime and was sentenced to five years jail. Later, he won his appeal. The two ministers, however, were never brought to book when it was they who had made all the decisions and the hapless secretary-general, who was a mere civil servant, just carried out the instructions of the minister.

When Azalina Othman became the Minister of Tourism, the same allegations of corruption and abuse of power surfaced. Her greatest adversary, the director-general of the ministry, Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, opposed her every step of the way. Everyone knew about the conflict between the minister and her director-general who would overrule all the decisions the minister made.

Eventually, they went for the director-general while the minister was spared. The director-general was charged for corruption and, just like in the case of Datuk Aziz, he too was acquitted.

It appears like in all these cases the staff and the secretary-generals or director-generals of the ministry are the ones who face the courts while the ministers escape punishment. And they are brought to book basically because they opposed their ministers and spoke out against the corrupt acts of their ministers.

Today, two people were charged in relation to the Pempena Sdn Bhd issue. Will the director-general, Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, now face another charge on the same issue after being acquitted of the earlier charge?

Well, you can be assured that the minister, Azalina Othman, will not be the one who will be made to face the law. The ministers who instructed the civil servants never are. It is always those who were instructed by the ministers to carry out the instructions that are the ones to take the fall.

One interesting thing in this whole matter, however, is that the latest corruption case involves a payment of RM169,700 made to Ummi Hafilda Ali. Now, was this one of the many pay-offs to Ummi Hafilda, the person central to the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy I case?

Yes, if you were to read the court transcripts of the Anwar trial back in 1998-1999, you will see that Ummi Hafilda Ali was well rewarded for her role in bringing Anwar down. And the latest case today proves this. But it is the poor employees who just did what their ministers asked them to do who are now on trial.

And this appears to be how it works. The ministers tell their staff what to do. And when the shit hits the fan, the staff are arrested and charged while the ministers get to walk free.


Former Rural Development sec-gen’s conviction overturned

Former Rural Development Ministry secretary- general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Muhammad yesterday won his appeal in the High Court against his 2005 conviction for abetting in a criminal breach of trust and cheating case, for which he received a five-year jail term.

In allowing the appeal, judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah held that the Sessions Court judge did not consider several pieces of key evidence. He said there was insufficient evidence to show that Aziz had instigated Terengganu Tengah Development Authority (Ketengah) general manager Datuk Alwi Said to release funds without approval from the Finance Ministry.

Aziz, 63, now a businessman, had been found guilty of abetting Alwi in committing CBT involving RM2 million.

The offence was alleged to have been committed at Kompleks Kewangan in Jalan Raja Chulan between April 27 and July 31, 1999.

He was also convicted of cheating the then second finance minister, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, through Finance Ministry officials, into believing that Ketengah’s RM9 million investment in orchid cultivation, fish-rearing and recreation projects in Tasik Puteri, Bukit Besi, Dungun, were sound.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Finance Ministry in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, between June 24 and Aug 9, 1999.

He was sentenced to five years’ jail on each charge, with the sentences to run concurrently.

On the first charge, Zabidin said Alwi’s own testimony showed that he (Alwi) had released the money before getting the Finance Ministry’s approval not because he was pressured by Aziz but because the Tasik Puteri Integrated Farm project was in dire need of money and he was confident of its viability.

He added that Alwi was also confident that the approval would be obtained eventually with the help of Aziz. — New Straits Times, 7 November 2008


Tourism DG’s acquittal stands after prosecution withdraws appeal

The prosecution has withdrawn its appeal against the Sessions Court’s acquittal of Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab for allegedly accepting dental treatment without consideration in 2005.

The prosecution withdrew the appeal when the case was mentioned before High Court judge Justice Ghazali Cha on Friday.

Justice Ghazali struck it out after Mirza’s defence counsel Saseedharan Menon did not raise any objection over the withdrawal

Mirza, 52, who was smiling broadly, said he was relieved by the decision.

“After all the preparation that had been made against the appeal, I am also surprised with this,” he said, adding that the case had affected his motivation to work.

“It is a busy weekend for the Tourism Ministry’s Citrawarna (now known as Colours Of 1Malaysia) event. I am thankful to my staff who have supported me,” he said, adding that he planned to hold a thanksgiving feast soon.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s legal and prosecution division director Datuk Abdul Razak Musa said the prosecution had reviewed the appeal and decided to withdraw it.

“We found that the evidence of the witnesses was not sufficient although in reality, Datuk Mirza underwent the treatment and the bill was paid by a witness,” Abdul Razak said.

On July 24 last year, Sessions Court Judge Zainal Abidin Kamarudin said the prosecution had failed to prove criminal intent on Mirza’s part that he had accepted the treatment from a company director.

Mirza, who was acquitted by the court without his defence being called, had claimed trial on Aug 13, 2008 to accepting dental treatment worth RM13,860 from company director Zulhisyam Ayob without consideration. — The Star, 21 May 2010


Two charged over Pempena scandal for payment to Ummi Hafilda Ali

Two former top officials of scandal-plagued Pempena Sdn Bhd were charged this morning with cheating in what are the first prosecutions involving the controversial Tourism Ministry subsidiary set up during Datuk Seri Azalina Othman’s tenure as minister.

The two former officials were charged over payments made to Ummi Hafilda Ali, who was a key witness in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy and abuse of power trials in 1999.

Today’s prosecution is the culmination of a scandal which broke while Azalina was still minister in 2007.

Pempena chief operating officer Mohammad Rosly Selamat and financial controller Lim Khing Tai were brought to face criminal breach of trust charges involving RM169,700 this morning.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had been investigating Pempena for financial improprieties believed to involve more than RM50 million.

The MACC had originally probed claims that Azalina, the former tourism minister, had hired 20 employees in Pempena although government regulations allow a minister to employ only eight people.

Mohammad Rosly, 56, and Lim, 38, are accused of making unauthorised payments for a concert without the consent of Pempena’s board of directors.

The money via four cheques was paid to Ummi Hafilda as sponsorship payments for organising Arab singer Amr Diab’s concert here.

The alleged offence took place at Pempena’s office at the Putra World Trade Centre on August 15, 2006.

If convicted, they face imprisonment of at least two years and not more than 20 years as well as a whipping and fine.

Session Court judge Rozana Ali Yusof set bail at RM20,000 for each and the case was fixed for mentioned on September 6.

DPP Muhamad Anas Mahadzir appeared for the prosecution.

Mohammad Rosly was represented by Rejinder Singh Dhaliwal while Lim was represented by Cheow Wee.

Former Tourism Ministry director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab was also seen earlier at the Jalan Duta Court Complex before leaving after half an hour.

Besides the sodomy charge, Anwar was charged in 1999 with directing Mohd Said Awang, then-Special Branch Director, and Amir Junus, then-Special Branch Deputy Director II, to obtain a written statement from Ummi Hafilda addressed to the prime minister denying allegations of sexual misconduct and sodomy as contained in her confidential report entitled “Perihal Salah Laku Timbalan Perdana Menteri” (Sexual Misconduct of the Deputy Prime Minister) dated August 5, 1997 in order to save himself from embarrassment. — The Malaysian Insider, 16 August 2010