Something fishy is going on with the corruption-related arrests in Malaysia


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Something fishy is going on with the corruption-related arrests in Malaysia
By Zan Azlee

LAST week in Malaysia, the secretary-general of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry Mohd Arif Ab Rahman was arrested along with two of his sons for alleged abuse of power and corruption.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) seized RM550,000 (US$123,000) worth of cash in different foreign currencies, including British Pounds, Euro and Singapore Dollars, from his house in Subang Jaya.

Since the arrests, more cash and gold bars worth an estimated RM5 million (US$1.1 million) have been seized. Arif and his two sons are now under remand for investigation until Jan 11.

This is just the most recent of many cases of blatant alleged corruption in Malaysia involving a high ranking government official.

Prior to this, the director and deputy director of the Sabah Water Department were arrested for alleged corruption in October of last year. Although the individuals involved were not ministry secretary-generals, they were still high ranking officials.

The amount of money involved in the Sabah Water Department case was much more obscene than the latest case. The MACC found RM52 million (US$12 million) in cash in their houses and then an additional RM60 million (US$14 million) in their bank accounts, totalling an estimated US$26 million. And that is in cold hard cash.

There are several elements of these cases that appear a little funny and peculiar.

The first has to be the substantial amount of cash and gold bars that are involved. It is not only considered a significant amount in Malaysia, but anywhere around the world.

The next is where the offending contraband was found. To keep this value of money and gold bars in their own homes suggests that these people either have so much gumption and arrogance that they think they won’t be caught, or they are simply stupid.

Think about it. In the Sabah Water Department case, the money was found stuffed in to book shelves and shoe cabinets. Doesn’t this strike you as peculiar, maybe even a little comical?

If these people are cunning enough to elicit bribes and kickbacks to such a high value, wouldn’t they at least be smart enough not to store it in such an obvious location that would immediately and undoubtedly implicate them should it be uncovered?

To me, it seems like something fishy is going on.

While these cases are undergoing an in-depth investigation, a bigger corruption and abuse of power case that is currently under investigation by several countries around the world, has been ignored by the authorities in Malaysia.

The 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal that has been plaguing the country’s prime minister Najib Razak is a scandal of epic proportions that involves billions of dollars and corruption at the highest levels of government. Evidence in the case continues to come to light as part of the ongoing investigations by the United States of America’s Department of Justice.

Basically, the 1MDB scandal centres on the unlawful appropriation of money from the government-run strategic development company. Millions of ringgit found its way into the personal bank accounts of the prime minister, his family and his confidant raising questions as to how and why it ended up there.

Considering the vast scale of the scandal, there has been little response from those in power. The attorney-general in Malaysia has declared that no wrong-doing took place regarding 1MDB and no further investigations into the matter have been ordered – leaving the Malaysian people with a lot of unanswered questions and doubts.

As the problem shows no signs of improving, let’s just wait and see how many more government officials are going to be arrested for abuse of power and corruption.

Potentially many more, but the amounts will probably pale in comparison to the billions of dollars related to 1MDB.

Like I said, it seems like something fishy is going on.

[This article was originally written for and published at AsianCorrespondent.com]

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