Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Do We Always Let Others Deal with Our Own Problems?

Is it a standard operating procedure of the Royal Malaysian Police today to abdicate investigations of high profile cases to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC)?

The Royal Malaysian Police was first criticised for being tardy with the investigations over the alleged embezzlement of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) funds by its top executives over the purchase of a property last Tuesday.

The Australian police reacted within 2 days of The Age news report by raiding the offices and residences of the relevant protaganists in Melbourne. On the other hand, the Malaysian Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department director, Datuk Seri Mortadza Nazarene, said “We are always ready to help in any way but so far, we have not received any request from Australia. The investigation is being conducted in Melbourne and we can only get involved if local police ask for assistance”.

When the Malaysian police was then accused of failing to take action despite the fact that the crime involved the funds of Malaysian taxpayers entrusted with the Government agency, Mara, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) had the cheek to tell Malaysians that "We see no elements of CBT in this case, so the MACC will conduct the entire investigation" on the 28 June 2015.

This led to further criticism, asking how the Police so suddenly, and so quickly decided that there wasn’t any element of criminal breach of trust, or any other penal code offences in the disgraceful Mara scandal?

I had asked if it was because the Minister in-charge of Mara, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal declared on 27 June 2015 that the transaction was in accordance to procedure and hence, above board?

However, based on Section 405 of our Penal Code specifically states that “whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property… dishonestly misappropriates, or converts to his own use, that property… commits “criminal breach of trust”.

Clearly in this case, there is a prima facie case of Mara top officials “dishonestly appropriates the money” when they were entrusted to invest funds allocated to Mara by the Government. The misappropriation was carried out via the inflation of the price to acquire a property, Dudley International House in Melbourne.

The criticisms were particularly pertinent given that The Age has in its possession, "false invoices" to prove that a bribe was indeed paid. "This paperwork can all be provided to Malaysian authorities. It is already in the hands of the Australian federal police," according to the journalist from The Age, Nick McKenzie.

It is shameful that it is the Australian journalists who are asking the Malaysian Police the right questions. The Age and Sydney Morning Herald's Asia-Pacific editor John Garnaut asked, "[the officials] stole A$4.75 million in Malaysian government money, taxpayer money, and we documented this theft beyond any reasonable doubt. Is Mara arguing that the agency's officials could have gotten away with stealing more?"

The question Malaysians must similarly ask, why is Bukit Aman doing their utmost to wash their hands off the case, pretending that there is no crime committed under their jurisdiction? Perhaps more importantly, who are they trying to protect?

Tony Pua

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