Malaysia

Disbelief over MACC’s inability to find proof of Taib power abuse

Opposition lawmakers in Sarawak reacted with disbelief over a report that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) could not find any proof against outgoing Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for alleged abuse of power in the giving of large tracts of land and logging licences to his relatives.

“This is outrageous!” PKR Sarawak vice-chairman and its Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How (pic) said.

“Is MACC clearing Taib of any wrongdoing?” See asked, adding that he will meet with the anti-graft watchdog's chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

In a posting on his Facebook page, See asked: “What about the new evidence that surfaced linking the alleged timber shipping kickback from Japan to the family?

“The MACC owes the Malaysian public a clear explanation and statement on the investigations.”

See, a senior lawyer in the state, said it is hard to believe that the commission which started its investigation five years ago, scrutinised over 500 files and opened 10 investigation papers, still could not find any evidence against the 78-year-old Taib who steps down as chief minister on February 28.

Taib, the country's longest serving chief minister who had helmed the state for 33 years, could possibly be sworn in as the next head of state to succeed Tun Abang Mohammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng on March 1.

State PKR chief Baru Bian rubbished the commission's finding as a “very lame excuse” to cover up a poor investigation.

“They should know who is the boss, who is the person in charge and who at the end of the day calls the shot,” Baru said, adding “Taib cannot be excused just like that.”

Baru said based on the principle of accountability, the final say at the end of the day rests with Taib.

Checks by The Malaysian Insider found the MACC failed to nail Taib for alleged abuse of power in giving land concessions and logging licences as the approvals were made by two senior ministers - Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, who is the Minister of Resource Planning and Environment.

A source told The Malaysian Insider that a task force of about 30 was set up in 2009 to investigate information received and obtained from blogs on Taib's alleged misuse of power.

Reaction in the social media ranged from the expected to anger.

“No surprise there,” according to Denniz Wee in his Facebook posting while “Jac Hammer” lambasted MACC as a bunch of “cowards".

David Wong posted “there is no such word as corruption inside the dictionary of BN, as long as you are one of them”.

“Perfect timing to clear Taib of his wrongdoings - paving way for him to take the throne as King of Sarawak,” Derrick Lee posted.

“Now all critics are silenced from questioning his capability of taking over. In Malaysia, apa-apa pun boleh!”

On the speculation that Taib would be the next Yang DiPertua Negeri, See had earlier last week suggested that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Conference of Rulers extend Salahuddin's term until the MACC make their graft investigations on Taib public.

State DAP chairman Chong Chien Jen on the other hand had said the appointment would put Sarawak in disrepute and shame, and therefore it was absolutely improper for the King and other rulers to accept it even though the post is largely ceremonial in nature.

Taib's fiercest foreign critic, the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) claimed Taib is estimated to be worth US$15 billion (RM46 billion) while 20 of his family members are worth a collective US$21 billion (RM64 billion). – February 24, 2014.

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