Integrity-spat amongst three Tan Sri gets dirtier

By Jackson Ng (former journalist)

I read with shock the New Straits Times (NST, Jan 22) report titled “MACC begins probe into blogger’s claims”.

Shocking, because this only means the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will be kept busy every minute and hour of the day investigating allegations by anonymous bloggers and poison pen letters. I sympathise with the MACC investigators, if this is so.

Unfortunately, can we really expect the MACC to be so diligent and super efficient in investigating every allegation raised daily?

Just look back in history and you form your own judgment.

Thousands of cases have been reported in the past, mind you, not by anonymous writers, but by people who had also provided documentary evidence and also witnesses.

But many such cases don’t see the daylight of investigations.

Why? In Malaysia, prosecution is by persecution. If you wield political power or influence, you don’t get probed or prosecuted.

The NST reported that the MACC has begun investigations into allegations that Tan Sri Robert Phang Miow Sin tried to induce a government official last year. (read this for details of the allegations: The NST report: “A source familiar with the case said a representative from Malay rights non-governmental organisation, Perkasa, lodged a report yesterday over the allegations which surfaced on a blog.

The blog postings alleged that Phang tried unsuccessfully to get a top-level civil servant to accept a T-shirt that was stuffed with an envelope containing an undisclosed amount of cash in return for a favour involving a RM900 million government contract, the source disclosed.”

What is disturbing is:
Ø The blog was posted anonymously, meaning by someone who is unable to openly vouch the credibility of his/her allegations. It is thus, the same as unsubstantiated rumours or poison pen letters used to smear the reputation of a person;
Ø Do you believe you can induce a RM900 million government contract from a top-level civil servant with just a T-shirt and an envelope containing cash?; and
Ø Why is a racist non-governmental organisation like Perkasa suddenly taking an interest in such an allegation when, in the past, there had been more credible cases that were ignored.

I sympathise with Phang who now appears to be a man left standing alone to face the might of the powers-that-be.

All the member of the MACC’s Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel did was to urge the all-powerful Attorney-General (A-G) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to clear the allegations against him.

Phang had called on the A-G to clear the air over public allegations on his relationship with Shahidan and the Mecca Haj pilgrimage because he was concerned that Gani’s silence would fuel deeper suspicions on the A-G’s office and MACC’s integrity and courage to probe the allegations.

And, mind you, the allegations against the A-G were made by blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin with documentary evidence.

Gani, under intense pressure from the public outcry via the media, on Jan 4 held a dialogue in the MACC academy with 30 (of the 42) members of the MACC board and panel members.

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, the MACC panel chairman, deemed it fit to clear the A-G of the allegations immediately after that, without any proper investigations.

Ramon also claimed all the panel members were satisfied with Gani’s clarification.

Phang then quickly took Ramon to task for the latter’s lightning-speed move to clear Gani and this was also followed by other panel members who disassociated themselves from Ramon’s stand.

The criticisms against Ramon and Gani intensified in the media and on Jan 17, the anonymous blogger posted the allegations against Phang which the MACC deemed fit to act swiftly.

Don’t you smell a rat?

Phang is now paying the price for going all out, without fear or favour, as an anti-graft activist.

He has been speaking up consistently in public, calling out for justice to be meted out in many cases, including the death of Teoh Beng Hock and the multi-billion-ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

I wonder, who now in position, is prepared to speak up for justice on behalf of Phang? Sadly, I think not.

It is believed the MACC is expected to meet this week and record Phang’s statement.

Phang had said that he would quit as a MACC panel member the moment investigations are initiated by MACC against him which he claimed were related to the A-G’s woes.

He had said tendering his resignation as a MACC panel member was only the right thing for him to do to sincerely help facilitate investigations.

Let us see if Phang walks the talk.

Phang’s immediate fear is not about losing his position in MACC. It is whether he will get a fair probe, what with allegations of fabrication of evidence in high-profile criminal and graft cases in Malaysia.

It will be a sad day for MACC and for Malaysia to lose someone so committed in the fight against graft.