Sunday, December 12, 2010

Growing list of tainted MBs

Growing list of tainted MBs
Friday, 10 December 2010 Combat

By Terence Fernandez, The Sun

YESTERDAY was World Anti-Corruption Day and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) observed it with the satisfaction of having nabbed the "biggest fish" this year, with the charging of former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo.

For many, it was a long time coming although the charge – of buying land at half the price – may not sit well with the many critics and enemies of Mohamad Khir’s who were hoping for more serious charges.

But the fact remains that the MACC had made its case and it is now up to the attorney-general and his team to present their case and for the system to decide if he is guilty.

And the former opposition leader in the state assembly should be tried on the basis of his alleged conduct. This is because the system should not be abused as a means to kill his political career in favour of other hopefuls. Because if this is the case, then it strengthens suspicions that the judicial system is being used as a political tool.

It would also underscore the perception that other politicians who are suspected of committing worse crimes are let off the hook – simply because it is politically expedient for some parties to do so. "No mandate" should never be the reason why a particular case is not pursued.

But Mohamad Khir should at least draw comfort that he is not the only ex-mentri besar who had a brush with the law. His predecessors Datuk Harun Idris spent time in Pudu for corruption, while Tan Sri Muhammad Muhamad Taib faced Australia’s legal system for currency offences. Unlike Mohamad Khir, they were convicted of these offences while in office.

Selangor also had its fair share of mentris besar with their own chequered career, which makes one think that the state seems to have a knack of making questionable leadership choices.

The verdict is still out on Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as far as his style of administration is concerned. But at least, one can safely bet that he is clean.

Hence a look at the list of those waiting in the wings to take over from him (from both sides of the political divide) does not seem to augur well for the "most developed state". It is crucial for the right decisions to be made when the time comes to choose a new leader for the state government, lest that person one day joins the growing list of Selangor leaders who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.


THE plight of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) Board of Directors which has been whittled down to only one independent director and five government representatives evoked much response following my last column seven days ago.

The expiry of Datuk M. Rajasingam’s term especially, generated support for his reinstatement – seeing that Rajasingam was the PKA general manager during the authority’s heyday, when it was a cash-rich regulatory agency.

The main response which we published on Monday was from PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng who agreed that Rajasingam’s service was badly needed in the board, especially when the PKA is embarking on cleaning itself up post PKFZ (Port Klang Free Zone).

Lee went the extra mile by putting on record and making public the PKA board’s recommendation to the transport minister that Rajasingam’s term be renewed.

Of course, this is the prerogative of the transport minister. Whether Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha adopts the PKA board’s recommendation remains to be seen. I for one will not be holding my breath. After all he vetoed the board’s decision to not pay bondholders due to PKA’s suit against turnkey contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB).

But in the case of the renewal of the term of the independent director, Kong will have a lot of explaining to do if he denies this other request of the PKA, which is also in the public interest. Maybe if he wants to better understand the situation, he could start by paying a visit to the PKA and speaking to its management and watchdogs – which apparently he has yet to do since he took over the transport portfolio in June.

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