Friday, December 23, 2011

Two fall guys and a fall gal?

Former Selangor Mentri Besar Dr Mohamed Khir Toyo was sentenced to 12 months' jail today for abusing his power as Chief Minister by buying a bungalow worth RM6.5 million for RM3.5 million and has filed an appeal.

Soon after the court announced its decision, Dr Khir told Malaysian Insider that he was "made a political fall guy".

The former Selangor Mentri Besar has maintained his innocence, insisting that the deal was at market value and on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis, the Malaysian Insider reported.

If what Dr Khir said is true, then the political leaders could have decided to make him the sacrificial lamb to show the people that the Barisan Nasional government is walking the talk regarding tackling of corruption involving those in positions of power and even those from Umno.

This could possibly be the way - at least in the minds of the Barisan political strategists - to win back some votes in the coming general elections.

The question now is whether there will be another political fall guy and a fall gal.

It is interesting to note that another event with far-reaching consequences occurred today - Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers raided the office of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) at Solaris Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

NFCorp runs the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) in Gemas, which has been at the centre of a storm of controversy ever since the Auditor-General highlighted the publicly-funded cattle raising project as “a mess” in his report this year.

It is headed by Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail, husband to Women, Family and Community Minister and Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil. Their children are also directors in the company.

Today’s raid follows an announcement by MACC yesterday that it would investigate allegations the NFC had misappropriated government funds, despite previously saying it would not probe the matter, the Malaysian Insider reported.

The MACC also confirmed yesterday it had remanded a businessman, said to be a Datuk, for questioning in relation to the case.

The 45-year-old suspect had earlier been detained by police for allegedly trying to bribe senior CCID officers believed to be involved in the NFC probe, reported the Malaysian Insider.

Could this MACC raid mean that someone at the top has decided to apply pressure to 'convince' Datuk Seri Shahrizat to resign? After all several political leaders including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have either blatantly said or blatantly hinted that she should resign.

And who's the most likely candidate to be the other possible fall guy?

On Jan 27 next year, former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik will know whether he has to enter his defence in the Port Klang Free Zone trial.

Dr Ling was charged in July last year with knowingly deceiving the Cabinet into approving land purchase for the Port Klang Free Zone, which resulted in wrongful losses for the government, according to the Malaysian Insider.

The former Minister also faces two alternative charges of deceiving the Cabinet into believing that the purchase at RM25 psf and the 7.5 per cent interest rate were acknowledged and agreed to by the Valuation and Property Services Department despite knowing that there was no such agreement.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Umno's attempt to split PAS?

Things have come to a head in PAS with Selangor executive councillor Datuk Dr Hasan Ali and former deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa openly criticising the party for deviating from its Islamic path.

Then again, this confrontation is not really surprising or unexpected given the sequence of events and the newspapers and TV station involved in the developments leading to the very public spat that has been played up by Barisan-controlled newspapers.

The Malaysian Insider reported that Datuk Dr  Hasan Ali and Nasharudin Mat Isa criticised the party for ostensibly deviating from its Islamic agenda, during interviews with Umno-linked Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian.

"Hasan has also been featured almost nightly on TV3, criticising the party that removed him as Selangor chief after its muktamar in June," The Malaysian Insider reported. It is widely known that TV3 is also Umno-linked.

In May, Utusan had reported (falsely) that Christian pastors were teaming up with DAP to install a Christian as Prime Minister and have Christianity as the state religion instead of Islam.

On Aug 3,  the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) carried out a search during a dinner, organised by non-governmental organisation Harapan Komuniti, at the Dream Centre Complex in Petaling Jaya belonging to Damansara Utara Methodist Church following a tip-off about an alleged attempt to proselytise Muslims at the event.

Two other Umno-linked newspapers - Berita Harian and Harian Metro - reported that Christian organizations were carrying out covert missions to convert poverty-stricken Muslims by offering them cash, free food and housing and the reports appeared days after the JAIS raid on DUMC.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had quickly expressed regret over the raid and gave his assurance that the Pakatan Rakyat-contolled Selangor state government fully respects freedom of religion and rights of religious groups to manage their affairs in the state.

But Hasan broke ranks to support the JAIS raid.

By then, the pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fit into the bigger picture and it became 'visible' that all the plots - from the false allegations about Christians plotting with DAP (which is a member of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition) to instal a Christian Prime Minister and have Christianity as the national religion to the allegations about Christians using money, food and housing to proselytise Muslims - were crafted to cause a split between the moderates and the so-called ulamaks in PAS using the minority and hapless Christians as the bait.

Hence complaints by Malaysian Christians that the political leaders went on a Christian bashing spree to win Malay and Muslim votes seem justified.

Now the question is how the Malay and Muslim voters perceive the situation - do they see the criticism of PAS by Hasan and Nasharudin as justified or do they see it as an obvious Umno-orchestrated attempt to split the party?