When news of the RM114 million seizure from the homes of Sabah Water Department (SWD) Director and his Deputy broke last Wednesday, question was asked as to why would someone keep so much money in the house.
One insider close to the case confided that it is a career-first to see more than RM40 million cash kept at home.
Another involved former Political Secretary to Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop but the amount pales in comparison.
The Star here reported the seizure include RM53.7 mil (RM45 mil from director's home and RM7.5 mil from deputy's), 127 land titles, luxury cars, watches, handbags, and jeweleries. Also being pursued are funds stashed abroad.
A friend first impression of the news, "This is surely a political slush fund. It is must be someone with a penchant for luxury and glamorous woman."
Issues and events are often quick to be politicised but in Sabah, it was cool for two days till statement by Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan on Friday.
He said the SWD was the implementing agency. However, procurement and payment of the RM3.3 billion infrastructure project was handled by the Ministry for Rural and Regional Development (KKLW) (read NST here).
That brought out a luke response from former KKLW Minister and now in the midst of setting up a new political party, Dato Shafie Apdal.
His response to Pairin:
PRESS STATEMANTThis blog wrote earlier of sources claiming Shafie has already RM200 million for his new party.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8th OCTOBER 2016
It has cause me to respond towards the statement made by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan concerning the awards of project amounting to RM3.3 billion in relation to the recent arrests of two state senior government officers. It was indicated that the project was awarded in 2010 during my tenure as the Minister in charge of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry. It was also indicated that the projects was not handle by his ministry. I would reserved my comment on this matter as I believe that we must not interfere or be seen to be interfering with the ongoing investigation by making public statements and plea of innocents so as to ensure that the integrity of the investigation by MACC is not compromise with.
It is quiet perplexing and amusing that the state authority are in a haste to plead their innocence publicly and diverting the blame to the Rural and Regional Development Ministry when the investigation by the MACC is still ongoing. Making such statements publicly seem to show that the state authority has no respect nor confidence towards the process of the investigation by MACC.
If so requested for me to assist in the investigation I am more than willing to cooperate and give my assistance in any manner that I can.
DATO' SERI HJ. MOHD SHAFIE BIN HJ. APDAL
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT SEMPORNA
Raimi Unggi's blast
It remained fairly tame till MP for Tenom, Dato Raimi Unggi passed a stinging remark on Saturday.
Daily Express used his quote "Impossible Shafie did not know" as headline.
Where Lajim called for investigation of all state agencies, Raimi called on MACC to pursue their investigation to the Federal ministry level. [Read The Star here].
For years, Raimi have been taking up issues on the poor delivery of water and other rural infrstructure projects to his constituency.
It can be found in abundance in Sabahkini portal throughout 2011 till 2013. Some of the video below:
One can look up for more in Sabahkini mirror site here.
Sources said the attack by Sabahkini was raised by Shafie in cabinet meeting. One cabinet colleague suggested to sue but he has since not done so.
Raimi's reaction can only be expected. He was then under pressure from the local PKR whose been taking up the issue and it could jeopardise his position in the constituency.
For quite sometime, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun had raised on the abuse and flaw in federal projects.
He felt state should be involved to monitor and control of projects [Daily Express here]. The Shafie side response was to accuse Musa as corrupted, thus the reason he framed Musa in the past.
Raimi's attack got Shafie out from an earlier reserve disposition. Shafie called for PC on Sunday and slammed finger pointers.
"It’s not logical if the tender came from my ministry, but the money was found in the state department," he said. [read FMT here]
Shafie accused Pairin for making politically motivated statement.
Other than KKLW, federal fund for rural water projects could come from Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KETTHA) and PM Department.
Shafie claimed the National Audit Department certified his Ministry had achieve 95% of target in their 2015 report. [Read Star here]
However, Daily Express here reported sources within SWD claimed 60% of all water projects got siphoned away.
It supports past allegations by Raimi towards KKLW.
A link received lead to an anonymous blog, Captain M. It contained useful information on the project, tender process, project management and other expose.
According to the blog, SWD is the highest revenue collection department for Sabah with 2016 figure at RM220 million.
They receive allocation from state and federal government via KKLW or KETTHA
KKLW provides for Bekalan Air Luar Bandar (BALB) projects. The bulk of the RM3.3 billion water infrastructure projects raised by MACC were allocation from KKLW.
KKLW is a recipient of substantial budget. For RMK 9, 10 and 11, their allocations are RM17.59 billion, RM28.4 billion, and proposed RM49.47 billion, respectively.
There is also allocation for rural NKRA program for 2010 to 2013 amounting to RM17 billion.
The list from Treasury proves the existence of rural water project by KKLW, below:
Since 2011, there have been a strain in relation between Shafie and Sabah CM, Dato Musa Aman.
Musa distrusted Shafie and insisted fund meant for water and other rural projects be channeled to state treasury and managed by the state.
However, at the insistence of Shafie, KKLW refused and insisted to manage and control the fund.
In response, local district officers were instructed by Musa to not implement and cooperate in KKLW projects.
To get around, KKLW moved the projects through the Bahagian Pembangunan dan Pemantauan Projek Cawangan Negeri Sabah KKLW.
Allocation for the projects was handled by a Federal Financial Officer for Sabah or Pegawai Kewangan Persekutuan Sabah.
In the absence of District Offices, KKLW agencies such as Felcra and Risda was assigned to verify and confirm completion of water projects to expedite payment.
These agencies deals with agriculture and land development but are functioning as District JKR officer. It was raised in Sabahkini as a source of collusion for "on paper" project that do not exist or not delivered.
SWD role was purely technical but critical for technical recommendation in the selection of contractors for closed tenders, assessment of tender, and technical clearance for payment.
The possible cooperation between SWD, Felcra/ Risda and KKLW/Federal Financial Officer makes for the perfect collusion. If so, the money seized proved.
Beginning 2010, tenders become less open and limited to closed tender. MACC reported only 38 companies with family links to the Director and his Deputy were allowed to participate.
Contractors in Sabah suspect the seized money are kickback paid in cash by the Director and his Deputy on their family linked contractors. Why the strange arrangement?
The anonymous blog extensively explained the manipulation of tender process, power of Minister to empower officers, and named suspected beneficiaries.
However, feedback received claimed they may have wrongly accused certain contractors.
Contracts are awarded by the Minister of Finance tender committee, and MOF will likely be the scapegoat of blame.
However, the important vetting is done at the lower committee and at times, the tender committee end up picking the card they are made to pick.
The more crucial stages to ensure tender success lies at the recommendations from the technical committee in KKLW and SWD.
The Minister have the influence to seek for special exemptions or make certain recommendations. Did he directly or indirectly do so?
MACC may need to investigate further all the way to the top.
It is not enough to hear assurances from Tan Sri Ali Hamsa to have MACC and Auditor General involve in contracts exceeding RM500 million.
Neither it is enough with denials all civil servants are not like the two and many recently caught by MACC.
The perpetrators must be found and the ways and means known to prevent repeated incidents.
This leakage was at large since 2010. Reports were made to MACC but only pursued now. Did friendship or politics or comradeship held back MACC?
The heartbreaking reality is poor people are left to endure daily hardship due to the greed for wealth and power by others.
The rural folks have been cursing and blaming Shafie for their hardship over the years. If there is no proof, he cannot be blatantly accused.
Shafie used to work with the Sabah state government and understand the working of the state and federal government. It may not be an easy catch.
It is a good reminder to Ali Hamsa's civil servants that it is them that will end up facing the brunt of the law.
Shafie could afford himself surrogate from among ex DAP and DAP as in former Junz Wong and Lim Lip Eng to defend him. Even today, Sarawak Report lent a hand a new spin on PM which was intended to instigate animosity against MACC.
The graft case had only taken the usual Malaysian path to be politicised. But if Anwar from inside prison need to help out to spin the issue to accuse Putrajaya [Mkini here], mayday distress signal can be heard loudly.
Dato Anifah Aman's statement earlier is quite relevant. He said none of the suspect in the water corruption is from UMNO.
The prime suspect could be from UMNO when MACC investigated. Only he quit the party early this year. May even be ally of PPBM.
* Edit 11/10 8:30 AM