NFC: Why are the rich are protected while the ordinary Malaysian goes to jail?
As controversy and speculation rise over the politically-loaded RM250mil NFC debacle, Malaysian authorities have been accused of turning a blind eye and deaf ear in a bid to try and 'persuade' a key witness to change his testimony, while giving Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Umno party time to get their 'story' in order.
"There has been no feedback from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission or the police. It is clear they are trying to cover up despite there being sufficient and clear SMS evidence to make an arrest or arrests," N Surendram, the lawyer for Shahzubahrin Ismail, a middleman who was charged for cheating Salleh Ismail, the NFC chief and husband of Umno minister Shahrizat Jalil.
In his statement to the police, Shamsubahrin not only denied Salleh's claims but provided counter evidence in the form of SMS messages that it was Salleh who asked him for help in influencing police investigations.
Protecting the rich and powerful
According to Shamsubahrin, Salleh was desperate to cover up the case, offering him RM1.76 million to bribe the police. Shamsubahrin has stated this accusation in a police report, of which Surendran has shown copies to the press.
However, police chose to charge and keep in remand the 45-year old "Datuk Fix-it" as Shamsubahrin is also known. He was brought to court and charged with cheating Salleh over fraudulent consultancy fees. The court has fixed April 4 to 6, May 14 to 18, and May 21 to 25 as dates for the hearing.
It is glaring that no action has been taken to arrest Salleh so far despite Shamsubahrin's statement and the wealth of evidence supplied by other whistle blowers such as PKR's Rafizi Ramli and Zuraida Kamaruddin . Even within Umno, there are calls for him to be arrested and for his wife to quit both her positions in the Cabinet post and as Umno Women's chief.
"The rich and the powerful in FC are protected but the ordinary Malaysian like Shasubahrin goes to jail. It is astonishing they won't act despite the SMS evidence. The authorities not only must take immediate action on this SMS bribery scandal but they must also explain their failure to take action todate," said Surendran.
A complex web of intrigue and corruption
Indeed, there is more than meets the eye in the entire NFC fiasco. Apart from blatant corruption, it is a quagmire of feuding Umno warlords all wishful to wash their hands of the fiasco while at the same time pointing the finger at each other in a bid to escape responsibility.
Key players in the NFC debacle not only include Shahrizat and family, but also Najib himself for allegedly stirring up the issue in a bid to replace Shahrizat with Raja Nong Chik in the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat long held by Shahrizat.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who approved the NFC project to the Shahrizats in 2006, former premier Abdullah Badawi and Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin are also involved.
The NFC is a cattle rearing project aimed to supply cheaply-priced beef to the nation. A RM250mil government soft loan was extended to get the project off and going, but Salleh and family spent a huge chunk of the money on luxury condominiums in Singapore and Bangsar, residential land, overseas holidays, huge credit card bills and so on.
Even Minister in the PM's Department Nazri Aziz - regarded as Najib's spokesman - has admitted that there was breach of trust in the way the loan was utilized, but again no action has been taken.
This has prompted suspicion that Najib is intentionally delaying taking action on the NFC scandal and using the mileage to discredit his deputy Muhyiddin and the Badawi faction.
Umno faces an internal poll later this year and Najib's position as president is up for grabs. Muhyiddin is expected to challenge Najib, while Badawi might again throw his support behind Malacca cheif minister Ai Rustam.
Proof of wastage and incompetency
Meanwhile, the latest complaint of an abandoned satellite farm in Manjung under the National Feedlot Centre program has highlighted the wastage and mismanagement by the Shahrizats.
Perak PAS deputy commissioner Misbahul Munir Masduki told the press he discovered during a recent visit that some 100 acres of grazing land had been left abandoned although the area was fully completed for the project. According to Misbahul, cattle was to have been supplied to investors in the Manjung farm, which had commenced four years ago when the area was converted into an food production centre.
It is also understood that the Agriculture Department had spent RM6.7 million to develop infrastructure such as the construction of two cattle barns that could accomodate 600 cattle at any one time, electricity and water supply as well as fencing.
However,not a single cow was delivered.
"Millions of ringgit of public funds had been wasted on this project. We want the state government to explain," said Misbahul.