Malaysians will never forget of how the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) uncovered an Ali Baba’s cave of treasure at the houses of two Sabah Water Department top officers, and it will serve as a reminder what civil servants can amass illegally if they want to.
MACC must be lauded for getting these two and once the crooks are brought to justice, MACC can hold its head high for it indeed has been going through some negative publicity for a while after it was criticised for not going after the big fishes hauling in billions.
The Star reported that thirty-eight companies owned by family members and proxies of Sabah Water Department director Ag Tahir Ag Talib and his deputy Teoh Chee Keong were given water contracts worth millions for RM3.3bil worth of federal projects since 2010.“Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) sources said that 17 of the companies were held by siblings and family members of Ag Tahir and another 21 companies were owned by Teoh’s relatives.
“The sources said the 54-year-old director and his 52-year-old deputy will be made to declare all their assets under Section 36 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 as the MACC wants comprehensive details of their wealth,” said MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Azam Baki, according to The Star.
As we see through the media of the stash of notes in all currencies in all nooks and corners of the house, as well as handbags and luxury goods which would make even the biggest collector of handbags in Malaysia blush, there is also talk that as MACC is doing its investigations, witnesses may have left the country.
MACC has spared no officers working on the case and MACC has said that a team of 70 personnel have been on this case since last year.
In fact, Borneo Today reported that the cash alone took 30 people 15 hours to go through, “using the serial numbers to estimate some of the sealed stacks, all this while locked in a room.
“Glittering gold jewellery of every design ― some still encased in velvet boxes, some casually lumped into plastic bags ― rings of precious stones, and branded watches were also showcased.
“Any fashion-conscious lady would also be impressed and envious with the collection of 94 luxury brand bags ― Gucci, Chanel, Burberry, Christian Dior, Bally, Fendi and more, gifted to the wives of the suspects.
“There were also several folders, each holding a series of land grants, totally 127 all over Sabah.
“The wealth was so mind-boggling it could not be totaled in the 1.5 days since it was seized.
“Money was coming out of every nook and cranny, as pockets of RM5 million were also stashed in the nine luxury cars seized between them ― a Range Rover, Mercedes, Volvo, Lexus, Mazda, Audi, BMW, Fortuner and Ford Ranger.
There was also foreign currency from various countries totalling RM8.3 million including RM192,804 worth of Singaporean dollars, RM86,041 worth of British pounds, RM75,962 worth of US dollars and RM40,230 worth of Euros found in the director’s possession,” reported Borneo Today.
However, the public, who is being fed information on the case by the MACC itself which feeds the media are wondering of a few things.
1. How many millions did MACC wait for the officers to collect before they swooped in? What hindered MACC from moving in earlier? We can understand that Tan drove an old Toyota Vios and no one suspected, but his boss Ag Tahir obviously flaunted his wealth in luxury cars which neighbours are now testifying.
2. There are many photographs of MACC officers counting the money but why was MACC counting the money by hand? There are the money counting machines which the banks use which could have counted these notes. Why was MACC not using the efficient methods?
3. Why is MACC exposing everything that they are doing on this case, including their modus operandi before they are charged – giving time for those involved the alert? Also, why all these media glare – is MACC trying to show it is working under the new boss?
4. This case involves more than just the two as it is about cronyism and nepotism, so, why only the two officers are the ones arrested so far? What about their family members who were obviously helping in spending the money, unless the officers were into cross dressing as well with 94 branded handbags?
Let us just hope that these are among MACC’s big fishes and not mere ikan bilis.