Saturday, October 20, 2012

The RM40 Million Tip Of The Iceberg That Will Sink UMNO

  • Abdul Rahman Dahlan
  • 7:57AM Oct 19, 2012

Comments by Sarawak Headhunter in red, as usual.

COMMENT When Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz recently made an announcement in Parliament on the decision of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in clearing Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman of the alleged corruption charges, cynical smile cracked my face: the opposition must be finding themselves in a very awkward position now.

In trying to defend the indefensible, Abdul Rahman Dahlan must think all Malaysians are as stupid as UMNO members. The MACC, which is just another wing of UMNO, clearing Musa Aman of the "alleged" corruption charges is just like UMNO clearing him and itself.

The ICAC's decision not to proceed can hardly be viewed as clearing Musa of such charges either. The ICAC just could not gather enough evidence without Malaysian government cooperation, which was point blank refused. Rogue Attorney-General Gani Patail's stonewalling on behalf of his (what?) was sufficient to ensure that the ICAC could not proceed. "Cynical smile" indeed!

Who believes that bullshit?  

While previously they have had a field day attacking Musa's alleged abuse of power and corruption, the same announcement has coerced them into changing their attack-with-extreme-prejudice strategy.

Now they can have a field day attacking UMNO's abuse of power and corruption, since UMNO has admitted that the money was a political donation. Which stupid dimwit dreamed up that answer and got an even stupider dimwit of a PM to say it out?

A few days after the announcement, the opposition conveniently shifted the attack from Musa to political funding for Umno. The condemnation - this time around - includes calls that such funding is preposterous, labeling it as unacceptable and that a royal commission of inquiry must be set up instantly.

While I leave the opposition to their agenda, let's peel some underlying truth from the fabric of Malaysian politics. It is not illegal for any Malaysian to give money to a political party of his or her choice - or to anybody for that matter. Should the donor wish to remain under the cloak of anonymity, the request should be respected as long as the donation stays within the confines of the law.

Of course it is not illegal per se to give or accept political donations. The question is what for and from where did the money come? If the money came from businessmen who had received business favours such as timber concessions from the ruling party, obviously this would taint it as a corrupt and illegal donation. Should such a donor's request for anonymity be respected?

Can the MACC so easily clear a culprit whose corruption is plain to see and yet expect to remain credible? And now that they have cleared Musa of the alleged corruption charges, can they also clear UMNO of the same?

But the opposition's world thrives on the axis of inequality and double standards. Allow me to illustrate my point. When the donation falls into Umno's coffer, the source must be revealed immediately. But have you heard the opposition declaring the sources of donation they have received so far? We all know that the opposition, too, receives political donations from all and sundry. How ironic!

This is another highly disingenous argument, the irony of which is lost upon its very own proponent. Is the opposition in any position to grant any business favours? Does it receive any questionable donations? Does anyone think that UMNO or the MACC would let any questionable donations to the opposition off so easily? Teoh Beng Hock lost his life at the hands of the MACC for a mere few thousand ringgit.

penang dap member rally 010412For in instance, take the spanking new multi-million ringgit party headquarters in Penang which DAP acquired within two years after assuming office in Penang. The Penang DAP building is reported to have cost about RM3.5 million. According to the Penang DAP chief, the money was collected through donations. Apparently millions have been collected to date.

When I asked a senior DAP leader on Twitter who financed the building, he replied in no uncertain terms that the millions collected were from DAP's well-wishers and loyal supporters. It is interesting to note that when individuals give money to DAP, it is called "sincere donation" but when the same treatment is accorded to Umno, the opposition cries "foul!" and accuses Umno of cronyism, corruption and abuse of power.

Well, if there's any proof at all of questionable donations to DAP for its party HQ building, send the MACC dogs in if they dare.

UMNO's cronyism, corruption and abuse of power are quite patently obvious enough for questions to be raised. Can UMNO Sabah say what warrants it to receive a "sincere" donation of RM40 million? Or there is no need for any reason at all? What is the difference between Musa receiving it and UMNO receiving it if it was a corrupt donation?

Who in his right Malaysian mind would give a donation of RM40 million for purely selfless reasons? Has anyone in Malaysian history ever done that? Why didn't UMNO Sabah say so that it was its money when the "courier" was caught? Or was that just a long after thought and the price for Musa remaining as CM?

Musa, darling of environmentalists

Ironically, while Musa is accused by the opposition of looting and pillaging Sabah's rich timber areas, it was his incessant drive to protect the timber and the forest from being plundered by irresponsible few that made him the darling of environmental groups from around the world.

How ironic indeed. As if being the "darling" of environmental groups from around the world would excuse Musa of UMNO from any acts of corruption relating to timber in Sabah, especially given the fact that the RM40 million is only the tip of the iceberg.

Everyone knows that timber is a multi-billion ringgit business in Sabah (as it is in Sarawak) fraught with all kinds of malpractices, abuses and corruption.

It certainly was not through following proper procedure that Taib Mahmud and his family amassed their tens of billions of ringgit worth of cash and assets.

Is it any different in Sabah? 

These organisations consistently heap praises on Musa's forest conservation programmes. Forest areas are being replanted at record pace under Musa's watch, making hundreds of thousands of previously logged areas green again within 30 years.

sabah forest trees kinabatangan meliau reserve 240509 03In fact, during his tenure as chief minister, Musa gazetted more forest areas with lucrative timber profits and placed them under the protection of the State Assembly to ensure that no chief minister - including himself - could unilaterally give permission to log the protected areas without express approval from the assembly.

The same fervour is seen in Musa's handling of the state's huge reserves of minerals such as coal, silica, gold and limestone which, if mined, is potentially worth billions to the state's coffer.

When asked why he does not utilise these resources, which could potentially increase the state's revenue instead of spending effort and money on his conservation agenda, Musa frankly replied, "Sabah at the moment is already blessed with oil money, so let's keep the forest and minerals for our children's and grandchildren's future."

Now if you go by what is being alleged by the opposition in Parliament, you would think Sabah finances were in utter mess - plundered by corrupt leaders and at the same time causing millions of its people to go destitute and live in a broken society.

That is far from the truth. The fact of the matter is - under Musa as the chief minister - Sabah has grown by leaps and bounds. The cash reserves of the state is at its all-time high, surpassing even the two most industrialised states in Malaysia (Selangor and Penang) and still growing strong as we speak.

If the chief minister was corrupt to the core as painted by the opposition, the state would be penniless. It doesn't take a genius to empty the state coffers if one is a "vacuum cleaner" as alleged by the opposition.

Another disingenous argument. It is not necessary for a state to be penniless just because its chief minister is corrupt. Most corruption occurs with off-budget and unaccounted for moneys, especially generated from excess business revenues from such lucrative businesses such as timber, where a large part of their incomes are received overseas through some form of transfer-pricing and much other hanky-panky.

Apart from the cash reserves, Sabah under Musa has achieved a new record when he presented a RM4 billion state budget for 2012. It was the biggest in terms of revenue and allocation, again surpassing Selangor's and Penang's budget.

As icing on the cake, the Sabah government under Musa was cited by the Auditor-General's Report as the state with best financial footing and best financial management for 12 years running. Of course, the opposition is chose to be oblivious to this fact. But I digress.

Sabah Umno's account audited

In so far as political funding is concerned, while there is no specific law preventing funding of political parties by well-wishers and supporters, the MACC has made it clear to all political parties that the monies received as donations by must be recorded, made known to the leadership of the party and accounted for when audited by the authorities, including by MACC. And Umno Sabah did exactly that.

Did they really? How could they have done that when the money was held up in transit? How could such an unorthodox and questionable means of transferring the money make it a legitimate donation?

musa aman pc in sabah 190608 02I have listened countless of times in Parliament when the opposition praised Hong Kong's ICAC as the best graft-buster in the world. They even demanded that MACC emulates ICAC's methodology in conducting anti-corruption investigations. Unfortunately, when the very same ICAC vindicated Musa, the opposition shamelessly called the decision "doubtful" and "highly irregular". Such audacity!

The audacity is on the part of Abdul Rahman Dahlan to claim that the ICAC had "vindicated" Musa when it is clear that the ICAC had done no such thing.

Let's face it. All political parties, including the opposition, receive donations and contributions from their supporters. Otherwise how would they carry their vast organisation and nationwide activities, which need to be sustained throughout the five-year gap between elections?

Let's play a number game, shall we? Let's assume PKR has branches in all 222 parliamentary areas and spends a minimum of RM10,000 on each branch for office rental, staff salary, utilities, office supplies and activities. That means top leadership of PKR needs to fork out RM2.22 million a month or RM26.6 million a year. That's a whopping RM133.2 million for five years to finance its branches throughout the nation.

Even if PKR only has half of the branches, the amount needed by PKR to ensure the running of its branches is still a mind-boggling figure of RM66.6 million for five years. These astronomical figures do not even include PAS' and DAP's expenses for their own branches.

Hmm, let's try this for UMNO's more than 19,200 branches shall we? That's RM192 million a month or RM2.304 billion a year or a whopping RM11.520 billion for 5 years and a super whopping RM126.720 billion over the 55 years that they've been in power. Now we know where all the government's money has gone or has UMNO been surviving on "sincere" political donations all this while?

So what was the fuss about the RM40 million funding again?

Yes indeed, what's all the fuss about? Or is it just the tip of the iceberg that will sink UMNO? Let's not make a fuss about that shall we?

ABDUL RAHMAN DAHLAN is the MP for Kota Belud and member of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee. He is also the Sabah BN secretary.

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