The former education minister Mahdzir Khalid is currently testifying at the High Court in the corruption trial of former self-styled First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM), Rosmah Mansor. The trial involves the alleged misappropriation of funds for the supply and installation of solar energy at 369 rural schools in Sarawak.
The defence team is eager to portray Mahdzir as an unreliable witness.
Rosmah’s lead defence counsel Jagjit Singh is suggesting that Mahdzir has probably made up his testimony, and struck a deal in order to get a lighter sentence. To be more specific, he is probably suggesting that if Mahdzir were to turn star witness, he would be let off, and not be charged with corruption.
Whether Mahdzir has, or has not, struck a deal is for the court and judge to decide.
More importantly, the rakyat are disgusted with Mahdzir, who is “singing” now, but when he was privy to this alleged corruption, was as quiet as a mouse. It begs the following questions.
First. What happened to the ministerial code of conduct? Does one exist? Haven’t ministers and MPs sworn an oath to uphold the highest standards of propriety and to inform civil servants of “all interests which might give rise to a conflict of interest”?
Second. In 2017, Mahdzir told teachers who supported and promoted the opposition, or who “discredited the government”, that they should resign.
Today, Rosmah’s corruption trial showed us that he had failed to act in the interests of the nation and has ignored the advice that he gave to the teachers.
If Mahdzir had any principles, he should have resigned, and alerted the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
We are probably correct to think that the MACC, during disgraced Najib Abdul Razak’s tenure, was probably compromised, but a man of principle, would have called a press conference and exposed the wrongdoings at the highest level of the government. Perhaps, he should have sought royal intervention because corruption of this scale, is a betrayal of the nation.
Third. How many other projects in Sabah and west Malaysia, involve corrupt deals?
Mahdzir claimed that he was pressured into approving this Solar project for Sarawak schools, but the prosecution said that he had benefited from it, to the tune of RM60 million.
The facts that were presented in court, are not for us to dispute, suffice to ask, when will the other corrupt deals be taken to court?
Fourth. Are other ministers and senior civil servants implicated in other corrupt projects?
Mahdzir was a senior minister, in charge of a major ministry. If a minister has been implicated in this manner, irrespective of whether he is complicit in the deal or not, we would like to know if other high powered ministries, like the ministries of defence, health, international trade and transport were involved in similar corrupt deals?
Fifth. The precedent set by ministers is important to maintain moral among staff, and good standards in office.
When junior ministers, aides and civil servants see senior ministers earning millions of ringgits from corruption, they will also want to benefit from a bit of corruption on the side.
Sixth. If guilty, ministers should be severely punished.
Just think of the time wasted, and more importantly the waste of the taxpayers’ money. Schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, houses and stadiums could have been built with the money that has been wasted on corrupt deals.
Seventh. When the MACC finally investigate other cases of corruption, the rakyat would like to know the duration of these cases of corruption. Will steps be taken to reduce or eradicate future corrupt deals? Corruption did not start during disgraced Najib Abdul Razak’s tenure. It started earlier, so why are the steps to stop corruption not working?
Eighth. Can all of the taxpayers’ money that was lost in a corrupt deal be recovered? Will the money be taken from the principal players – the giver, the taker and those involved in facilitating the deals?
Ninth. As it takes two to tango, the company directors or those involved in the deal, should also be severely punished. Deterrents are necessary to make companies and individuals think twice about stealing from the rakyat.
Tenth: Many people are disappointed with the slow pace of Pakatan Harapan’s reforms. If Pakatan were to lose in GE-15, Umno-Baru/PAS/BN will overturn the corruption charges and release the ministers and key individuals, who have been jailed for corruption. Do you want this to happen?
A reminder. If Pakatan had not won GE-14, the MACC would not have opened these corruption cases and the rakyat would not known about the individuals who stole their money and deprived children of schools. Act wisely in GE-15.
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)