MACC denies ‘dragging feet’ in Taib probe

Abu Kassim insisted his MACC officers 'work really hard' and spend a lot of time examining the case, but noted that there were people who make 'unfair allegations' against them. – Picture by Choo Choy May
Abu Kassim insisted his MACC officers 'work really hard' and spend a lot of time examining the case, but noted that there were people who make 'unfair allegations' against them. – Picture by Choo Choy May

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PUTRAJAYA, July 20 — Despite an investigation already into its second year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) insists it was not “dragging its feet” in probing allegations of graft against Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Rather, the anti-graft agency’s chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed gave his assurance that the commission’s investigators were keen to see the deed to completion.

“We are also as eager as others to complete the investigation. We are not dragging our [feet].

“We want the investigation to complete as soon as possible,” the MACC chief commissioner told The Malay Mail Online and Guang Ming during a recent interview.

Abu Kassim insisted his MACC officers “work really hard” and spend a lot of time examining the case, but noted that there were people who make “unfair allegations” against them.

Later in the same interview, Abu Kassim touched on the alleged disparity in treatment for cases involving federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) politicians compared to their counterparts in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, calling such claims a “total lie”.

“People say we are very skewed, when it comes to opposition, we are very fast; this is a total lie,” he said.

He pointed out MACC had completed a probe on BN’s former state assemblyman for Lenggeng within two weeks, while the commission took two years to probe key opposition leaders such as PAS spiritual advisor Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and PKR treasurer-general Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

“We investigate Nik Aziz about two years, we investigate Khalid Ibrahim about two years, why people don’t scold us why take so long to investigate these people?” Abu Kassim asked, later adding that a graft probe into Perwaja Steel had taken eight years.

In a video released in March by Global Witness, members of Taib’s family and lawyers were shown discussing what appeared to be questionable land deals and tax evasion with undercover operatives from the international corruption watchdog.

On June 29 this year, the MACC reportedly said it had quizzed over 20 individuals and examined 400 files for a graft case purportedly linked to Taib, one of the country’s longest-serving chief ministers.

MACC Investigation Division Secretariat assistant commissioner Lim Bee Kean said all the individuals who were questioned, including Taib himself, had co-operated with the commission.

“Actually, investigations had been ongoing since June 2011, even before the video exposure,” she was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying in a press conference.

Global Witness, a London-based NGO, had this March released a 16-minute-long video clip titled “Inside Malaysia’s Shadow State” which its investigators had secretly recorded.

Lim said MACC was barred from revealing details of its probe and said it is expected to be lengthy due to the many documents and parties involved.

“As in other cases prior to this one, the MACC will not divulge the investigation details, in accordance with Section 29(4) of the MACC Act 2009.

“As this case involves numerous documents and parties, the investigation will probably take time for the collection of evidence, statements and in light of new developments,” she said.

Lim also said a multi-agency taskforce of 10 officers, including those from MACC and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) was formed to speed up the probe.

After the investigation, MACC would then submit the report to the AGC, a government agency with powers to prosecute offenders.

Taib has served as Sarawak’s chief minister since 1981 and has outlasted every other contemporary in the political arena.

Malaysians were given a glimpse into the apparent wealth that Taib and his family are alleged to have amassed, during his son Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir’s divorce trial with Shahnaz Abdul Majid, in which the latter claimed her ex-husband was worth over RM1 billion.

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