COMMENT, Jan 7 — The RM30,000 bribe to muzzle a complainant in a sexual harassment case in Penang has hit the headlines, reinforcing the point that no one in Malaysia should accept or tolerate corruption and any financial misconduct in the country.
So, while it is refreshing and laudatory to see mainstream newspapers reporting the Penang case that involves a civil servant and a political aide, questions remain why the local media is silent on the RM100 million National Defence Education Centre (Puspahanas).
Why are they wasting so much ink over RM30,000 and not a drop for the project which has seen government land being swapped and sold but no building in plain sight in Putrajaya.
Is RM100 million just change compared to the raft of multi-billion ringgit federal projects? But RM30,000 is a lot and makes news because it involves a political aide from the federal opposition?
What is the greater crime here? A company with no track record gets a RM100 million construction job in 2005 and is paid with three parcels of government land worth RM72.5 million and RM27 million cash.
This company, which is Selangor Wanita Umno chief Senator Raja Datuk Ropiaah Abdullah’s (picture) Awan Megah (M) Sdn Bhd, failed to build Puspahanas by 2011 but got to sell the land last month to a unit of public-listed Boustead Holdings Bhd, which is majority owned by army pension fund Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT).
Yet no one in government or the local media have raised a hue or cry about a facility that has yet to be completed? Or question how the Boustead unit can buy land which is apparently locked to Raja Ropiaah’s firm that she had to work out complicated deals to fund her project.
By all means, expose corruption as little as the one that one that cost Teoh Beng Hock’s life in 2009. And the latest one in Penang. Peg and assume reports that show Pakatan Rakyat (PR) also contains elements who are corrupt and not above to dirty tricks.
But go for the big fish too. How can anyone close their eye to the most daylight of robberies, a company that gets away with more money than the cost of the building it never built?
How can the Ministry of Defence keep quiet about this? How can the Ministry of Finance not say a word?
Public land is swapped for a prestigious national project but nothing gets done and everyone is as silent as the Puspahanas worksite.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) government has put eradicating graft as a top priority by beefing up the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and setting up more anti-graft courts.
However, no one there sees it fit to investigate the Puspahanas scandal with as much ardour and passion as they investigated Teoh in 2009 and this PKR political aide this year.
There must be some truth to that old Malay saying then, that “kuman di seberang laut nampak, gajah di depan mata tak kelihatan”.
Malaysians cannot and must never tolerate any corruption, financial wastage or leakage.
Investigate and publicise the Penang case because it is wrong to bribe a complainant to drop her report. But also ask this one question: where is the RM100 million Puspahanas and why is everyone keeping silent about it?