Saturday, 20 October 2012 18:55 Written by Kim Quek
Parliament should consider censuring Minister Nazri Aziz for giving completely contradictory answers in parliament within the short interval of one week in respect of the contraband S$16 million cash seized in Hong Kong International Airport which both Nazri and Prime Minister Najib Razak denied that it was Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman’s money, claiming it was donation to Sabah Umno.
It should also consider rebuking Prime Minister Najib for having irresponsibly denied that the illegal attempt by Michael Chia Tien Foh to board the plane with the contraband cash was not an act of smuggling cash in breach of law, simply because Nazri has made some dubious statements in parliament.
On Oct 11, answering MP Chua Tian Chan, Nazri stated that the Attorney General (AG) had decided that corruption was not proven, based on the reports submitted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Nazri further stated that, based on this outcome of MACC’s investigation, Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) did not take any further action.
However, answering MP Tan Kok Wai on Oct 11, Nazri said investigation carried out on the case was not done by MACC, but by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which had subsequently stated that there was no corruption in this case.
One moment, it was MACC’s investigation that led to AG’s verdict of no corruption. But the next moment: no, it was not MACC, but ICAC which investigated and concluded that there was no corruption.
The contradictions are puzzling.
Could it be that Nazri thought our AG and MACC’s credibility might not be good enough for Malaysians, and decided to attribute the findings to the world famous ICAC noted for its anti-corruption prowess, hoping to get better reception from Malaysians? Otherwise, how could he reconcile the two completely contradictory statements?
In fact, Nazri not only has problem reconciling these two different statements, but he also has problem reconciling both these statements against a MACC statement a few days earlier.
On Oct 5, MACC’s deputy chief commissioner (operations) Shukri Abdul said that investigation on the Hong Kong contraband cash case was still ongoing as its review panel requested for further investigation.
Apart from these multiple contradictions thrown by Nazri to parliament, his claim that ICAC has concluded that there is no corruption is also fishy.
This is evident from the fact that the S$16 million cash seized on 14th August 2008 was only released at the end of the statutory retention period limit of three years, when ICAC failed to wrap up the case due reportedly to Malaysian government’s refusal to extend co-operation in the investigation. If there was no case as claimed by Nazri and Najib, would the Hong Kong authorities have kept the money for the full legally allowable period of three years?
In fact, Michael Chia was arrested and investigated for both offences of money smuggling and money laundering.
NAJIB’S DENIAL IRRESPONSIBLE
Sneaking out the country with large amount of cash in breach of law is called smuggling money. I fail to see how Najib could claim it was not smuggling just because his minister Nazri has answered some questions in parliament – and badly answered at that, I must add.
Answering a question in a press conference on Oct 19 whether there was any basis to claims that the money was smuggled or laundered through Hong Kong, Najib answered curtly: “No. It has already been explained in parliament”. By that, Najib was of course referring to Nazri’s duplicitous answers abovementioned.
It is most unbecoming of the prime minister to base his answer to such a serious scandal on such a shady foundation.
Members of parliament should seek the following from Nazri in parliament, in addition to asking him to explain the many contradictions in his abovementioned statements:
1. Full disclose of the communications between the governments of Hong Kong and Malaysia on this issue; in particular a) whether ICAC has forwarded its findings to MACC including the money flow chart trailing the Sabah timber corruption money all the way to Musa Aman’s UBS AG account in Zurich, b) whether ICAC has requested for inter-country co-operation, c) whether ICAC has categorically stated that there was no corruption in the case and that it has ceased to pursue the case further.
2. When did MACC start its investigation, and whether it is still on-going. If so, why it has not been able to complete the task after such a lengthy investigation.
3. What role the AG has played in this case – in relation to the Hong Kong authorities and in relation to the Malaysian government, in particular, MACC.
Unless Nazri is forthcoming with satisfactory answers, he should be censured and referred to parliamentary select committee (privileges and power) for further probing.
Kim Quek is the author of banned book The March to Putrajaya