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Saturday, February 11, 2017

From one scandal to another



Felda chairperson Shahrir Samad’s latest revelation is a prelude to yet another scandal affecting the nation.
If left unchecked, scandals involving billions of ringgit will continue to deplete the country’s coffers; therefore, efforts must be stepped up by Shahrir, the Auditor-General’s Office and the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) to put a stop to the scandals.
However, the RM2.6 billion question is - will Shahrir survive to see the scandal coming out in the open? Will the MACC be reined in before they could make any further arrests? Both Shahrir and the MACC have the support of the rakyat who are keen to see the culprits being punished for their involvement in the scandals.
This case, coupled with a number of other high-profile cases, have made us appear to be a nation of kleptocrats, as spelt out by the US Department of Justice in its civil suit to recover some US$1 billion suspected to be siphoned out of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.
My suspicion is that Shahrir will be pressured to resign on his own accord or he will be sacked unceremoniously from the job as Felda’s newly-appointed chairperson. This is after he highlighted the missing billions in Sinar Harian, confirming the suspicion raised earlier by Pandan lawmaker Rafizi Ramli.
Hardly has the dust settled with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s 1MDB scandal, now we are faced with the question where another RM4.3 billion of funds raised through the listing of Felda Global Ventures (FGV) have gone to!
According to Shahrir, some RM200 million which had been reported missing by the Auditor-General’s Office is unrecoverable, as it had been expended in various unrelated programmes.
This amount of money could have been translated into hundreds of scholarships for deserving students, or could have gone to feed thousands of poor people for a few years. However, there is no point crying over spilt milk.
In my opinion, the MACC has to investigate further into these abuses. Questions have to be asked about the role of its former chairperson, Mohd Isa Abdul Samad.
Why were these abuses not detected at an early stage, assuming that everyone was sleeping on the job? What did Mohd Isa do to stop the abuses? Why did he not report the losses made?
Why did he not investigate into the billions that have gone missing during his tenure as chairperson of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV)? Did he have a part to play in the Felda scandal?
The people are victims
Although these scandals may appear isolated, the truth is that it is the people who are the real victims of the major scandals.
For example, when the government has to step in, the money paid out of the government’s coffers are part of the taxpayers’ money which should have been used to benefit the people.
Instead, what we are still hearing today is that some hospitals are unable to carry out specific tests due to shortage of funds to purchase the reagents.
When the rakyat request for a small job to be done in the name of safety, the answer often given is that there are no allocations to do the job.

It is the rakyat who suffer. Those linked to Umno and the government of the day are supposed to be, as the Malay proverb goes, the fences that protect the padi, who turn out to be the ones which destroy the crops.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.- Mkini

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