Politics, politicians, and their criminal cases: A Malaysian story

By , in Editorial on .

Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States of America once declared “show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I’ll show you a crook” and frankly, truer words have never been spoken.

Truman served as President in the gilded age of modernization, from 1945 to 1953, where he put an end to World War II in the Pacific, drew up the Marshall Plan as well as the Truman Doctrine.

Quite notably, in the early 1940s, during World War II, he also led a Senate committee that investigated inefficiency and corruption in the U.S. military, earning him national recognition.

Truman was also among the poorest U.S. presidents, with an estimated net worth of less than US$1 million at the time of his death.

Fast forward to 2021 and the Malaysian courts and the legal system are back in full swing. Whilst the vast majority of the country has been mired in the never-ending political saga that unfolded yet again, the (allegedly) corrupt politicians are still being prosecuted and after much delay in their trials, it is coming to the fore.

Leading the who’s who of corruption trial is former PM Najib Razak, charged with four counts of power abuse in order to receive gratification worth RM2.28 billion, as well as 21 counts of money laundering involving over RM4.3 billion or what is known as the 1MDB-Tanore case.

The court schedule for the 1MDB-Tanore trial shows a total of 75 days, set between September 2021 and June 2022.

Najib has already been convicted of seven charges related to 1MDB, where he illegally received an estimated RM40 million in funds from SRC International.

The former first lady is up next. All eyes will be on Rosmah Mansor next month, as on the 9th of September the High Court decides on her appeal to remove Tan Sri Gopal Sri Ram as lead prosecutor.


Rosmah faces 20 years of jail time over a charge of soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving bribes totaling RM6.5 million from a businessman for helping his company secure an RM1.25 billion hybrid solar system project and the maintenance of diesel generator sets in rural schools in Sarawak from the education ministry.

Following in the steps of Najib is his former deputy and UMNO President Zahid Hamidi. You may remember him as being the incessant politicking linchpin that caused the collapse of the Perikatan Nasional government.

Zahid faces 20 years’ imprisonment on 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to some RM42 million from a company to extend the contract as operator of the foreign visa system.

Zahid is further accused of accepting bribes in various currencies – S$1,150,000, RM3,000,000, €15,000, and US$15,000 – all from the same company. Trials are set to resume on the 25th of August.

Next up is Ahmad Maslan, the UMNO secretary-general, who’s been charged with money laundering and providing false statements, to be heard for re-mention on Aug 24 at the High Court.

The Pontian MP allegedly failed to declare RM2 million he received from Najib in his 2013 tax submissions, as well as with giving false statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on the matter. The hearing will begin in June next year.

Charges towards Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin are scheduled for trial for four days and are ongoing. His alleged offense carries a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment.

Bung and his wife Zizie Izette were charged with receiving a bribe of RM2.2 million from an investment agent in exchange for approval for Felcra, of which Bung was the non-executive chairman, to invest RM150 million in Public Mutual unit trust products.

Former Tabung Haji Chairman and Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim’s appeal to strike out 13 corruption and money laundering charges will be heard on September 6th. He is charged with receiving RM5.2 million in bribes for road projects, and 10 counts of money laundering involving some RM140 million.

The government is also seeking to forfeit RM16 million from accounts belonging to Azeez’s wife and children, in a case to be heard on October 8th.

Not all corruption cases involved UMNO members or their family members. The next one on the list is the corruption case involving DAP’s poster boy for integrity, former finance minister Lim Guan Eng.

Guan Eng is charged with four counts of corruption involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang. For the first amended charge, Lim is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to illegally receive RM3.3mil to help a company owned by Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to secure the undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang worth RM6.3 billion.

For the second amended charge, he is charged with soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul to help the company be appointed for the same project.

The Bagan MP was also charged with two counts of causing two lots of land owned by the Penang state government worth RM208.8mil to be disposed of by the developer linked to the undersea tunnel project.

Guan Eng’s trials are currently ongoing.


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