Make no mistake, the authors of written parliamentary answers in response to awkward questions choose their words with utmost care. Najib is no different.
MP Chua Tian Chang had enquired of the Prime Minister what had happened to the Anti-Corruption Commission investigation into major money-laundering by the Sabah resident Michael Chia, who is a known side-kick of the Chief Minister, Musa Aman.
Musa Aman has been busy repeating over past weeks that he has nothing to do with Chia and that to suggest otherwise was to defame him.
So consider the wording of this answer given by the Prime Minister:
“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has conducted investigations into the Michael Chia case which is linked to the Sabah chief minister.
It has been completed and presented to the AGC for study and a decision” [Najib Razak, written answer21/6/12]
“Linked to the Sabah chief minister”
In one stroke the Prime Minister has cut the ground from beneath the already shaky CM.
Musa’s feeble pretences of “not entertaining frivolous allegations” and protests against “defamation” are now collapsed entirely through the words of his own boss, who has acknowledged in the most public way possible that the Michael Chia money-laundering case “is linked to the Sabah Chief Minister”.
What are we now to make of Musa’s recent statement?:
“I deny all these allegations. I wish to put it on record once again that I have no business association whatsoever with an individual named Michael Chia,”
Well it seems that Malaysians now have to choose whether to believe the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister!
Why not resign?
With such a public demonstration of disownership from his own boss, it is baffling how Musa Aman has reasoned it possible to remain in his office for the remainder of the week.
Apparently he has yet to comment on this confirmation that he is indeed linked to the investigation into the laundering of around a hundred million dollars of timber kickbacks.
Significantly, he has not dared this time to come out and deny the allegation made by his own Prime Minister, whereas he had been happy to accuse Sarawak Report of reproducing forged documents!
And, of course, Najib Razak has not been alone in choosing words that finger Musa.
A similar deliberate and damning statement has already been issued by authorities in Switzerland, who were approached by Hong Kong’s investigators over Musa’s Zurich bank account, where the timber money trail has been clearly ending up.
The careful answer by the Swiss Attorney General’s office to the question by a journalist again implicated Musa:
Question: “The Malaysian politician Musa Aman, Minister of the State of Sabah, is at the centre of a corruption case in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s anti corruption authority has compiled a report on the case. It is alleged that, through nominees, Aman has received a total of 90 million US dollars of corruption payments from logging companies in return for granting logging concessions. Allegedly, these funds have been laundered through a network of companies and deposited on UBS accounts in Hong Kong and Zurich. Lawyer Richard Christopher Barnes and businessman Chia Tien Foh have been mentioned as nominees. These occurrences date back to the years 2006 to 2008. My question is the following one: Has the Office of the Attorney General led an investigation for suspected money-laundering or other criminal offences in this context?“ [
Answer: “The Office of the Attorney General has in this context provided legal assistance".
That simple answer clearly acknowledges that Musa Aman was at the centre of the affair, as laid out in the question!
Who else is implicated among BN's governing elite?
It might be observed that if Najib dismissed every corrupted member of the BN government there would be few left to govern. This is, of course, why the people need to perform this task at the next election.
However, with Musa squarely singled out by this case, the Attorney General (Abdul Gani Patail) is looking particularly vulnerable also. It has long been known that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) completed its enquiries many moons ago and sent a hefty list of suggested charges up to the AG’s office, where all progress has subsequently been blocked.
The AG is a relative of Aman. He is also enmeshed in numerous other corruption controversies. His third class law degree does not lend lustre to his position.
So, again, Najib’s choice of words puts pressure on him. The PM has left the ball firmly in the AG’s court. If he continues to resist a prosecution, despite the glaring public evidence that prove there is a case for the Sabah CM to answer, then the fault for that will clearly rest with him.
And there is another high placed politician who is also weakened. Musa’s brother is the Foreign Minister, Anifah Aman and Sarawak Report has already demonstrated how he too has benefitted from the handing out of timber licences by his own brother.
Hanging out to dry
Najib has certainly left some very senior people with some serious embarrassment and potentially far worse after his decision to say what he did. It may be that this is because he too feels angry and exposed.
The stupidity with which Aman has plundered Sabah’s remaining forests and then tried to hide the proceeda has been staggering.
Now the Swiss authorities are faced with investigating the role of their bank UBS AG in the whole unsavoury process, there remains little left to hide.
But, what of the biggest crook of all, the Chief Minister next door, who has spent the last 30 years confiscating native lands and handing them to his family and nominees? Who has chopped down vast tracks of pristine jungle and profited from the kickbacks and handed billions in state contracts to companies owned by his family and political clients?
It is time that a question was likewise asked about the glaring evidence of Sarawak’s utter destruction through corruption and why nothing has been said of the MACC investigation against him either – or has Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail blocked that too?