KOTA KINABALU, Oct 7 — Sabah Opposition politicians believe the Sabah Water Department (SWD) is not the only tainted government agency and urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to widen its graft investigations to cover all others.
Claiming the SWD case to be only the “tip of the iceberg” in an ocean filled with them, Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin said it was common knowledge among those in the industry that the cost of government projects are inflated many times than the accepted norm, “just to accommodate needs of those involved in awarding contracts.”
“The Sabah Water Department’s case could be just a tip of a bigger iceberg, floating in an iceberg-filled ocean. More big sharks must be caught. There are many agencies which deal with much more and bigger business transactions than what this department handles,” he said in a statement.
“Only by going after the other cases could MACC help redeem the country’s standing in the eyes of the world,” the former PKR state chief added.
The 54-year-old director and his 51-year-old deputy, 55-year-old businessman brother who carries the title Datuk, and his accountant are currently are being probed for corruption including kickbacks involving RM3.3 billion worth of federal projects awarded to some 38 firms belonging to the duo’s siblings and proxies.
Some RM115 million worth of cash, bank accounts, nearly 20kg of jewellery, 94 handbags and foreign currency was seized from the duo along with nine luxury cars, watches, and 127 land grants.
At least 46 people are being called up for statements, including staff and contractors of the Water Department, and family members of those involved.
Lajim said that the if the RM3.3 billion allotted for Sabah Water Department since 2010 had been utilised rightly to improve water supply in Sabah, Sabah would not be undergoing the severe water shortage and access issues it has now.
Sabah DAP secretary Chan Foong Hin in lauded the arrests said it shows that corruption was ingrained into the public sector, resulting in serious leakages and wastage caused by misconduct and abuse of power.
He asked the commission to widen their search and conduct immediate investigation on other state government departments and agencies which had complaints against them repeatedly.
“For instance, many have made reports against Sabah Forestry Department and Sabah Foundation. The public is puzzled as to why no one has been held for responsible for the death of Pygmy elephants in Sabah Foundation forest reserves last month.
“Similar tragedy had also happened two years ago but until now, no one has brought to the front of the justice.” said the Sri Tanjong assemblyman.
He also singled out the Land and Survey Department, which has seen many native communal rights cases brought to court for misconduct.
Moyog Assemblyman Terrence Siambun said that in light of the involvement of the water department, the state must review the proposed Kaiduan Dam project which some residents have fought against for years.
He said the RM2.8 billion dam which was approved by the State Cabinet in April 2009, should not be continued as the research and study may have been influenced by the Sabah Water Department on the committee of Sabah Water Resources Council (SWRC).
He said both the director the deputy were very much involved in the project, with the latter tasked as mediator between the state and the stakeholders of Ulu Papar project.
Siambun said the integrity of the Billion Ringgit Kaiduan Dam project must be investigated for the sake of the people most affected by the controversial dam project.