Gani and Hishammmuddin told the ICAC that the money actually belongs to Umno and that Michael Chia was only the courier or bagman for Umno. The ICAC told the ‘official Malaysian delegation’ that they (the ICAC) were going to ‘freeze’ the money, but for only three years. After the three years ‘time bar’ (or by 2011), the money would be released and thereafter allowed to leave Hong Kong.THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
If you have not yet read Friday’s report by Sarawak Report, Million Dollar Bribes Disguised As ‘Donations’ – UMNO’s Ever Changing Stories!, you can do so HERE. Then read the three reports below.
Basically, Malaysia Today first exposed this timber ‘commission’ scandal involving Umno Sabah back in 2004, soon after Malaysia Today was launched. That was eight years ago. However, no one appeared concerned about the matter then.
Today, the issue has met with much brouhaha -- as if this is something that has just surfaced very recently rather than something that has been going on for decades since Sabah first became part of Malaysia back in 1963.
East Malaysian politics is the politics of timber. Any idiot or dimwit knows this. A Sabah warlord is not a Sabah warlord unless he has at least RM200 million or RM300 million to his name. And that is why Sabah politics is big money. If you want to buy someone worth RM200-RM300 million, the price definitely has got to be huge. RM1 million or RM2 million does not even come close.
The Sabah warlords are known to spend RM3 million to RM6 million a night at the casino. So what is RM1 million or RM2 million? RM1 million or RM2 million is pittance. It is not enough for even a few hours at the roulette table.
Musa Aman, the Sabah Chief Minister, was already worth RM600 million when he took office, according to his official asset declaration. Today, he is estimated to be worth not less than RM1.5 billion, second only to the Sarawak Chief Minister in wealth -- who also made his pile from timber.
And trust me, even those Barisan Nasional turncoats who have joined Pakatan Rakyat recently, or are about to join Pakatan Rakyat soon, are also worth millions. And they, too, made their money the same way. If these are the people Pakatan Rakyat is attracting then it makes no difference whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat rules Sabah.
This is how Sabah's dignitaries travel around the State, in pomp and style
Anyway, as usual, Malaysia Today does not like to repeat what others are already reporting. Malaysia Today only wants to focus on The Untold Story. That is why we do not talk about the Shahrizat Jalil RM250 million cow scandal. As it is, we are already suffering from over-exposure from that story that is close to giving us indigestion. So let me fill in the blanks regarding this Umno Sabah ‘donation’ scandal instead and tell you The Untold Story of this episode.
Umno Sabah gives out timber concessions to its cronies and warlords at way below market price (or underpriced like hell) and it collects a commission (or kickbacks) on the export of logs, mainly to Japan. The money, however, is paid in Hong Kong. And note that there is no open tender for giving out timber concessions. It is all done on a ‘negotiated’ basis and awarded to the lowest bidder that offers the highest under-the-table ‘commission’.
And this was why Michael Chia -- a man Musa Aman says he does not know but photographs of the two show that they know each other -- was caught in Hong Kong. But what most do not know is that Michael Chia and Musa Aman are not the only ones involved. There are many other people involved as well -- such as a lawyer by the name of Richard Barnes.
When this matter first ‘exploded’ in 2008 (four years after Malaysia Today had revealed the scandal), Attorney-General Gani Patail and Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein went to Hong Kong to try to ‘settle’ the matter with the Chinese authorities (an act known as kowtim in Malaysia).
Gani and Hishammmuddin told the ICAC that the money actually belongs to Umno and that Michael Chia was only the courier or bagman for Umno. The ICAC told the ‘official Malaysian delegation’ that they (the ICAC) were going to ‘freeze’ the money, but for only three years. After the three years ‘time bar’ (or by 2011), the money would be released and thereafter allowed to leave Hong Kong.
Then we have the Rural and Regional Development Minister, Mohd Shafie Apdal, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s buddy, who was then the Deputy Chief of Umno Sabah. However, he told Najib that he was totally in the dark about what was going on.
Yes, that’s right, every man and his dog in Sabah knew about this Hong Kong drama except the Deputy Chief of Umno Sabah.
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Nazri Abdul Aziz, who said, “Opposition receives political donations too, not just Sabah Umno”, (read that report here), is also involved. Michael Chia met Nazri in Parliament House to hand over RM3 million in cash as the ‘fee’ for the latter to help the former resolve this matter. And that flashy car that Nazri’s son drives (see picture below) actually belongs to Michael Chia.
Further to that, AG Gani Patail and CM Musa Aman’s brother, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, are related by marriage. Anifah’s wife is sister to Dr Johan Samad, the Deputy Director of Yayasan Sabah, who is in turn married to Fazar Arif, the sister of AG Gani Patail’s wife. Hence what we are seeing here is an all-in-the-family mafia. And where there are no blood ties, money ties make up for it.
This scandal, if not properly resolved, may result in Barisan Nasional losing at least 10 of the 25 Parliamentary seats in Sabah. Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, Sipanggar, Penampang, Beaufort, Keningau, Pensiangan, Tuaran and Kota Marudu can most likely fall to the opposition. Nine of those ten seats are Chinese-Kadazan-Dusun seats, except Beaufort, which is a Malay seat. Three other seats -- Kota Belud, Ranau and Papar -- would also be close fights and could go either way.
Hence the likelihood of half the Parliamentary seats in Sabah falling to the opposition is not an impossible scenario. And if that happens then the state can fall as well. That is how serious this matter has become. It seems, according to the financial audit done by Price Waterhouse, about RM3 billion from Yayayan Sabah has mysteriously ‘evaporated’, mainly timber revenue. So this is no small issue and the voters are terribly upset about the whole thing.
If Pakatan Rakyat is clever and if they know the correct way in playing up this issue, Sabah may fall and they might even win enough Parliamentary seats to march into Putrajaya. My concern is that Pakatan Rakyat will instead fight amongst themselves over seat allocations, which will allow Barisan Nasional to retain Sabah.
If this state of affairs continues, Umno may have to replace the head of Umno Sabah as soon as the State Assembly is dissolved and general elections are called. The voters will then have to be told that Musa Aman will not continue as Chief Minister if Barisan Nasional retains the state. Then, most likely, only two seats will fall to the opposition -- Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan -- and Barisan Nasional will sail through with enough seats to form the state government and at least 23 Parliamentary seats in Sabah to deny Pakatan Rakyat the federal government.
Sabah Umno official: ‘We have nothing to hide’
(The Star, 17 December 2004) - KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno is of the view that everything is in the clear for its new RM35mil, 11-storey headquarters now under construction in the city.
“As far as Sabah Umno is concerned, I can assure you that everything is above board,” state Umno information chief Datuk Rahim Ismail said, when contacted over a letter that appeared in the website of a local newspaper on Dec 3.
A similar letter was posted on an online newspaper on Wednesday. The letter insinuated that something was amiss in the deal for the construction of the Sabah Umno building on a 0.48ha site in Karamunsing.
Among the questions raised were why Umno did not use its own 2ha land in Sembulan to construct its headquarters and who was overseeing the construction.
The letter purportedly written by someone known as Haniffa, raised various questions on who was the real owner of the new building and if there was any relationship be-tween Sabah Umno and the company developing it.
Rahim, who is a member of the building committee, declined to say anything else other than stressing that everything about the project was above board.
It is learnt that Sabah Umno would let the matter rest although the party discussed it at a meeting a few days ago.
The explanation given was that the building, for which the groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 16 last year, had the blessing of the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Umno officials said yesterday that the land was donated by a private company, with the full knowledge of the party leadership.
They said they decided not to construct their building on their own 2ha land at Sembulan because the party wanted to keep it as a prime city property.
“There is nothing secret about this deal,” said a senior Sabah Umno official.
The new Sabah Umno headquarters, which is expected to be completed next year, would not only house the party’s offices but also banks, shops and a hall with a seating capacity for 2,000 people.