KOTA KINABALU, Oct 6 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must launch detailed investigations into projects involving a state utility firm following the arrests of two senior officials over a RM114-million bribery case, said a Sabah lawmaker.
Penampang MP Darell Leiking said the case required fresh reviews of public projects such as the controversial Kaiduan Dam in his constituency.
“A deep explanation by MACC should be made to public especially Sabahans as these same department and certain officials have been most vocal about pushing for the Kaiduan Dam.
“We do not know the specifics of the likely massive cost construction of the Kaiduan Dam but the MACC should also take note that some officials from the Sabah Water Department were very vocal about pushing for the Kaiduan dam and ignored the repair and mitigation over non-revenue water — which contribute a huge loss — as well as leakages and unrepaired water pipes all over Sabah,” said Leiking in a statement here today.
He alleged that the officials had ignored the complaints of villagers most affected by the proposed 150m high dam, resulting in it becoming a major source of contention for years.
The state government has vowed to go ahead with the project to solve a looming water crisis despite activists’ claims that the dam will displace and threaten the livelihoods of potentially more than 1,000 indigenous villagers when it submerges 12 square kilometres of forest and parts of the Crocker Range.
Yesterday, the MACC arrested two officials of a state agency for alleged corruption and displayed the approximately RM114 million including RM52 million in cash allegedly obtained from kickbacks involving RM3.3 billion worth of federal projects.
The staggering wealth was stored in the offices and homes of the two, some in the nine luxury cars and in six safety deposit boxes, expected to contain millions of ringgit in each.
The 54-year-old director, his 51-year-old deputy, 55-year-old businessman brother who carries the title Datuk, and his accountant, 50, are currently under remand until investigations are completed.
Leiking today commended the MACC, but also questioned how the duo’s alleged scheme could have gotten away undetected since as far back as 2010 and called into question existing, implemented or proposed projects and contracts.
“Were they designed as a scheme to serve the alleged crime by these alleged suspects or were these part of the state government's cabinet decision? And who influenced the implementation or proposed such projects?”
He urged the MACC to “be brave” in their investigation and prosecute without fear or favour to any high authority.
The arrests also triggered outcry among Sabahans, who juxtaposed the wealth of those arrested with the conditions in some villagers that do not have access to fresh water.
Social media users related their experience of water shortages, particularly in rural and northern areas where villagers are sometimes known to walk for several kilometres to collect clean water.
Former federal deputy minister and Sandakan MP Datuk VK Liew, in a scathing post on Facebook, described the arrests as Sabah’s own Watergate, referring to the political scandal of former US president Richard Nixon’s administration.
“That money was meant to resolve our water woes ... that money could feed an entire population in a district in Sabah,” he said, before recounting reports of villagers in Kota Belud who had no water in the run-up to Hari Raya and were eventually arrested by police when they protested inaction by the government to their water woes.
“Now that the rabbits are out of the hat, guess what we're witnessing is probably just a tip of the iceberg. Questions abound as to whether there are many more government agencies under the radar of MACC. After all , it's not a secret that some government agencies really need a total overhaul to weed out the worms,” he said, pointing out that the utility department was relatively small in comparison to the wealth that was confiscated.