Lajim offers assistance to graftbusters

(The Sun Daily) – Beaufort MP Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin has declared his willingness to assist any investigations into corruption allegations involving awarding of timber licenses to “well connected” individuals in Sabah.

“I believe (that) my knowledge, experience and insider information on the workings of Umno and government at the state and federal level can assist the investigation,” said Lajim in a statutory declaration made at the Kota Kinabalu High Court on Monday.

Lajim, a former Umno Supreme Council member, had left the party in July to be a PR-friendly independent MP and was later stripped of his position as deputy housing and local government minister.

A copy of the statutory declaration was also uploaded onto PKR’s strategic director Rafizi Ramli’s official website.

“Timber has long been been a lucrative source of financing for politicians and government officials in Sabah.

“From my own experience as Sabah deputy chief minister, I have had suspicions that timber licenses were granted to personalities close to top government officials and politicians in the state,” he said.

Explaining further, Lajim said this allows individuals involved to sell timber at below market-value and receive the difference in the form of kick-backs, credited into various accounts overseas, and eventually transferred back to benefit local politicians and officials.

Lajim’s declaration forms a part of new “evidences” which will be submitted by Rafizi and a delegation from his National Oversights and Whistleblower centre, to Hong Kong’s anti-corruption authorities, urging them to reopen investigations into alleged ties between timber trader Michael Chia and Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Musa’s alleged ties with Chia was first exposed by whistle-blower site Sarawak Report in April, after the latter was caught trying to leave the Hong Kong International Airport with RM40 million in Singapore currency.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri Abdul Aziz had told Parliament in October that “no elements of corruption” was found against Musa after anti-graft authorities in both countries have ceased their probe into the case.

It was then reported that Chia had allegedly told the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) that the RM40 million belonged to Musa, but Nazri subsequently said the money was only a “contribution” to Sabah Umno.

In response, Lajim sworn that throughout his term as member of Umno Sabah liaison committee, he was never aware of any discussions to solicit the RM40 million “donation” or any declaration that the sum was received.