TOP graft-buster Dzulkifli Ahmad can be proud of the higher cash seizures, more arrests and prosecution in his first year of running the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) but that success could cost him his job.
There is growing disquiet within Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) over Dzulkifli’s zest and apparent eagerness to nab those allegedly accepting bribes or involved in corrupt practices, especially government politicians.
Since taking office in August 2016, Dzulkifli’s MACC has seized RM334 million in assets compared with RM55 million the year before. MACC has also opened 952 investigation papers, up 2.94% from the same period previously, brought 405 cases to court (up 32.83%); and made 910 arrests (up 6%).
The Umno Supreme Council meeting last Friday discussed several high-profile MACC cases and arrests these past few weeks with even the most “benign” warlords demanding action to stop the “aggressive” enforcement.
“Some Umno Supreme Council members are concerned that Dzulkifli is going for the small fries and cases not worth mentioning, especially those allegedly involving their aides,” a source told The Malaysian Insight.
“They want action to make sure it does not affect Umno or BN, especially with the general election due within a year,” the source added.
Dzulkifli, who was from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, was named to the MACC top job effective August 1, 2016, taking over from former chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed who retired.
He has had several top successes, including the arrests of top officials from the Sabah Water Department and seizure of RM114 million in cash and luxury goods, the arrest of Johor executive councillor Latif Bandi, arrest of Land Public Transport Commission acting chairman Isa Samad and a few other civil servants.
Isa’s arrest and five-day detention in August over alleged graft in Felda Global Ventures Bhd caused an outrage among his Umno supporters and sparked the disquiet over Dzulkifli and the MACC’s aggressive investigation into big cases.
Also detained were several others, including a political operative from a BN party in Sarawak.
Concern grew when Human Resources Minister Richard Riot’s political secretary was among four detained in investigations into the alleged misappropriation of RM40 million from the Skills Development Fund Corp (SDFC).
It is understood that a top Umno Youth official from the Bagan Datoh division was also detained as part of the SDFC probe. The Bagan Datoh division is led by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is the senior Umno vice-president.
Last week, Dzulkifli also took on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low, criticising him over the idea to form an Integrity and Good Governance Department to oversee the conduct of officers in five enforcement agencies, including MACC.
The MACC chief commissioner said the proposed department was a waste of funds, particularly when the government had cut the budget for recruitment of more officers for the various enforcement agencies.
Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday announced the new department despite criticism from Dzulkifli, who has been described as overstepping the limits in criticising a minister.
“Dzulkifli should know better than to criticise a minister without checking his facts. He can always go through the proper channels even if he thinks is not answerable to the minister. Everyone is answerable to someone,” an Umno warlord told The Malaysian Insight.
But Dzulkifli has not backed down from his work in MACC and used its and predecessor Anti-Corruption Agency’s (ACA) 50th anniversary celebrations yesterday to say they must portray an image that would bring fear to the corrupted
“In this respect, we have been aggressive in our enforcements and operations with either arrests or indictment being made every week,” he said yesterday.