While ruling UMNO has appeared paralysed and transfixed by the unfolding 1MDB scandal in KL, which is now enmeshed with toxic raids on the pilgrim and old age funds, it appears that Sarawak has suddenly taken some action on corruption.
Sarawak Report has received reliable information that among the 375 timber company bank accounts, announced to have been frozen yesterday, are accounts belonging to at least four of the ‘big six’ timber companies in the state.
Significant names caught in the round-up include the STA (Sarawak Timber Association) as well as Samling, Rimbunan Hijau, Shin Yang and WTK, according to informants.
Interests belonging to politician cum timber tycoon Leonard Linggi ‘s companies are also believed to have been caught in the drag net, which the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday announced amounts to over half a billion ringgit.
This information follows an even more pointed gesture later this afternoon, when the MACC further announced that the account of an “Assistant Minister” linked to the Baitul Makmur II building had also been frozen pending enquiries.
MACC Investigations Director Mohamad Jamidan Abdullah told the press that this particular account belonging to the Minister contained RM4 million:
“For this purpose, we have taken down a statement from the assistant minister.
“We have also recorded a statement from a businessman who is in his 50’s and a director of the company involved in the construction,” said Jamidan Abdullah
Few people have been left guessing the identity of the individual concerned.
One name only has been appearing in the comments sections online and it is that of the Assistant Minister for Islamic Affairs, and Minister for Infrastructure Development, Daud Abdul Rahman.
The move by the MACC appears to have been a direct response to complaints this weekend by Sarawak Report about this Minister, who is also a construction magnate.
After 1MDB’s Tabung Haji scandal hit the news we reminded readers how we had already exposed in 2013 how Mr Daud had himself channelled a major building contract through his own company Eastbourne Corporation, skimming off RM35 million in the process.
This was the Baitumal Fund’s contract for the Baitul Makmur II building in Kuching.
Sarawak Report pointed out that Daud Abdul Rahman had been in a pivotal position in the awarding of the contract, as he is the Chairman of the fund and a Board Member of the Lumbaga Amanah Kebajikan Masjid, as well as the Minister for Islamic Affairs.
In previous exposes we have also revealed that Daud’s company Eastbourne has received almost a billion ringgit in pubic contracts, in a blatant conflict of interest with his parallel position as the Minister of Infrastructure development.
It is to the new Chief Minister’s undoubted credit (compared to the last) that he has made these moves, in accordance with remarks he uttered just last week at Malaysia’s London High Commission, when he told NGOs that he intends to clean up the bloodsucking corruption that has been draining the state dry for decades.
Onlookers have noted that the reported RM4 million sitting in Mr Daud’s frozen account is a relative drop in the ocean, compared to the hundreds of millions that have passed through his companies.
They have also pointed out that the RM560 million netted in the timber company accounts likewise amount to a painless office kitty, in comparison with the tens of billions of lost revenue to the state from companies which have not reported profits despite the rampant and destructive logging they have carried out.
However, a start is a start and with elections on the horizon Adenan should build on the process.
The MACC have now to make their charges stick and to progress with squeezing these relative minnows to discover the real sharks who have been feeding in the shadows behind and where the real big money is hiding.
Then the Chief Minister should open a fund for the people of Sarawak, into which he can put the proceeds of such corruption trawls.
This fund could support such remits as the education of the children of Sarawak’s deprived rural communities; better health and maternity facilities; food and beds for the rural poor and of course people-friendly infrastructure projects, like electrification, water and proper roads.
Vastly expensive mega-dams can wait, thereby saving the million ringgit salaries of types like Norway’s Torstein Sjotveit, who could be back sent home to preach his theories there.
Then maybe some genuine “progress and development” could at last be achieved from the years of logging and plantation which has done so much damage to the people’s health, wealth, culture and way of life.
“The operation that begun around 9.30am involved 400 enforcers from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak was spearheaded by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in collaboration with the state government. Other agencies involved were the Police, General Operations Force, State Forestry Department and Inland Revenue Board.
The operation was launched following public tip-offs and thorough surveillance by MACC and other government agencies, MACC said through a press statement yesterday.
Out of the 48 premises raided, 27 were sawmills and log ponds while the rest were business premises located in six districts – Miri (13 premises), Kuching (12), Sibu (12), Bintulu (6), Bakun (3) and Kapit (2).
A total of 375 company or individual accounts with a total amount of RM560 million were frozen and more than 500 logs were confiscated in the process”[Borneo Post]