When former Johor state executive councillor Abdul Latif Bandi was charged with graft earlier this year over land issues, Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin appeared to come out unscathed.
That all changed when a leaked MACC document surfaced last week and Khaled was asked in the state legislative assembly if he had received kickbacks in relation to the case.
Although Khaled denied the allegation in the legislative assembly on Monday, many Johoreans spoken to – regardless of their political affiliations – said the best way forward is with a thorough probe by the authorities.
Norzy Norzizi Ali, 60, a staunch Khaled supporter, called on the opposition to bring their evidence to the authorities to facilitate investigations.
“Investigate the claims. So far, the opposition is just opposing and making claims.
“Prove it in court, that is the best course of action,” Norzy (photo) said when met in Muar yesterday.
The businessperson said Khaled had done much for Johor and that the allegations levelled against him would not tarnish the state’s reputation.
Credibility in question
Norzy’s friend, Mohd Nor Sukiman, 53, was less impressed with Khaled’s performance as menteri besar, and therefore believed that investigations were necessary for transparency.
Nor (photo) said he had heard several versions of the allegations against Khaled and therefore investigations were necessary. Should Khaled be found to be clean, then it would put the matter to rest, he said.
“Some people say he received RM4.8 million, some said RM12 million, so investigate him for the sake of transparency,” said the self-professed PAS member.
Nor said one of the reasons why he lacked faith in Khaled’s credibility was the inaccurate statements the menteri besar had made about poverty in Johor.
“He once said there are no poor people in Johor. That is not true. He should go back to his village in Serom, where I am also from,” he said.
‘Be cleaner than clean’
Oil and gas company executive Jimmy Azmi Harun, 40, said Khaled’s denial in the Johor state assembly yesterday did not satisfy him because many issues remained unanswered.
He said the power to remove bumiputera restrictions on houses would certainly require the approval of the menteri besar.
Now that there is a witness statement, purportedly from the MACC, claiming that the integrity of the process has been compromised, investigations must definitely take place, Jimmy said.
“The (bumiputera) status (of the houses) could not have changed on its own. That is impossible,” he added.
Waitress Sarimah Ahmad, 53 (photo), said she was unaware of the allegations made against Khaled, but believed that investigations must be carried out anyway, to ensure there was no corruption.
“Corruption is an issue that will affect us all. Even our religion forbids corruption,” she said.
Leaked witness statement
Khaled’s alleged gratification was first raised by Senai assemblyperson Wong Shu Qi in the Johor legislative assembly last Monday.
She had alleged that that MACC witness statements, which have surfaced online, had implicated Khaled in the receipt of bribes to allow the removal of bumiputera restrictions for certain housing projects.
The MACC confirmed that the witness statements were leaked. The police are probing the source of the leak.
Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raub, who was the subject of the witness statement, claimed that the front page of the document was not the one he authored and the document had several missing pages.
Amir and Latif were charged with money laundering and graft.