MALACCA: A POLITICIAN in Malacca, embroiled in two high-profile corruption cases, is expected to be charged for his alleged offences soon. However, he was appointed to a “special position” in his party on Wednesday, a move which has raised eyebrows.
The appointment of the politician to the “informal position”, announced by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron at the Klebang Kecil Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri annual conference is understood to have been made after Malacca Umno executive secretary Datuk Shamsudin Mehat took leave for health reasons.
News of the official’s appointment, which has yet to be made public, was conveyed to the New Sunday Times, which had in the past written about his case, allegedly involving sums that ran into tens of millions of ringgit.
The NST has been made to understand that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigations into the case of the official who was arrested and remanded on Nov 28 while serving as special officer to the Malacca Historical City Council (MBMB) mayor, have entered the final stages.
The official is being investigated under Section 53 (3) of the MACC Act and was granted bail of RM100,000 with two sureties, but was rearrested on Dec 2 to assist in investigations into illegal money-laundering activities under Section 4(1) of the Anti Money Laundering Act (AMLA) 2001 and was released under bail of RM100,000, after being detained for 24 hours. In its probe, MACC seized more than RM150 million in cash, vehicles, assets and documents from the official.
This included RM41 million in cash and RM12.6 million in bank accounts, 56 land titles belonging to Yayasan Melaka in Sabah and six State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) files related to land reclamation projects, seven vehicles (two Toyota Vellfires, a Toyota Camry, a BMW, a Proton Waja, a Perodua Myvi and a Proton Exora).
Also seized were two Toyota FJ Cruiser four-wheel drive vehicles which are worth about RM200,000 each.
Following his release, the official had initially resumed his duties at the MBMB mayor’s office, before Idris announced in a response to a query from the opposition at the state assembly in February, that the official had been removed from the city council and placed at the Tangga Batu Umno service centre.
At the Klebang Kecil Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri annual conference held at his official residence in Seri Bendahara, Idris announced the official’s appointment as the state BN and Umno special functions secretary.
When asked about the appointment, MACC said, “it is not for us to comment”.
Its deputy chief commissioner (operations), Datuk Azam Baki, also refused to comment on the status of its probe, except to say that it was “ongoing”.
In an immediate response to the issue, Idris said the individual was temporarily called in to assist in the party’s ground activities and that it was “not an official appointment”.
“We merely asked him to take care of the people on the ground. There was no official letter issued to him and there was no official appointment.
“Shamsudin, the state Umno executive secretary is hospitalised as he is sick. So, at the moment, I am merely asking him to carry out special functions while Shamsudin is on leave.”
Idris said the official, a Tangga Batu Umno division committee member, was a political figure who was able to help the state Barisan Nasional and Umno at the grassroots level.
He said the man in question had “contributed a lot to the party on the ground, including in ground activities.
“He is a political activist... he is the best person we have to help us on the ground. He can help place flags on poles and take care of our activities. Let him work for the party and let the court judge (whether he is guilty of corruption).”
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low said state leaderships should assess the integrity perspective before making appointments.
“When we appoint people to leadership posts, especially to positions of such responsibility, I think we have to discern their integrity. That is more important than their popularity or their political savviness. Integrity has to play an important part in this position,” Low told the NST.
He said appointments of personalities reflected on the leadership.
“If a leadership values the principles of good governance and integrity, then they would appoint people who can uphold that.
“If the person’s integrity is in question and evidence against him suggests that, then it is only fair that the person be relinquished from his position.
“There may be good reasons why the CM appointed him, but perception-wise, you have to be seen to uphold integrity.”
State MIC chairman Datuk M.S. Mahadevan said he respected Idris’ decision to allow the official to hold the position.
“I believe Idris, as the state BN chairman has every right to appoint who he wants to assist the BN machinery.
“Besides, the appointment is temporary, because Shamsudin is on sick leave.”