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Power in the wrong hands can be disastrous

“A MAN who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad,” the 26th United States president Theodore Roosevelt said.

The quote was an analogy of how power in the wrong hands would have disastrous effect. Earlier this month, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) expose of a scandal involving two state officials for water projects in Sabah shocked the nation. The revelation that the culprits had allegedly pocketed millions of ringgit over the years was incredulous.

This was at the expense of thousands of rural folk who are denied of their clean water supply all this while. It certainly does not bode well for the state government, and the opposition has dubbed the state government “clueless”.

While they took their hats off to MACC, the opposition members criticised the state government for failing to keep their officers in check.

Former rural and regional development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal was not spared criticism, despite him denying involvement in the matter.

Some quarters are urging MACC to investigate if there were federal officers’ involvement in the scandal and wanted MACC to guarantee a thorough probe.

Tenom member of parliament Datuk Raime Unggi said Sabahans were angry and wanted MACC to zero in on individuals and not focus on the state government for loopholes and weaknesses in the system, while Penampang MP Darell Leiking said Sabah was even more famous now, but for the wrong reasons.

The Sabah Water Department director, deputy director, the deputy director’s brother and his accountant had been released on bail pending investigations, while the remand on the fifth suspect — the department’s former deputy director — ended yesterday.

All eyes are on MACC on how it will go about charging the culprits, which might take a lot longer as the list of those involved may grow.

Just the arrest of the fifth suspect was an indication that the corruption goes way back to even before 2010 as recorded by MACC — hinting the situation could be more grave.

In the MACC operation, dubbed Op Water, more than RM115 million, bank accounts and safe deposit boxes were seized from the state Water Department director and deputy.

Other valuables confiscated by commission officers were jewellery, 94 designer bags, nine luxury cars and 127 land titles — all worth RM36.877 million.

MACC revealed that the two senior officers had transferred more than RM30 million to banks abroad.

More than 80 people had their statements recorded by MACC and at least three witnesses attached to the Water Department had voluntarily returned money they purportedly received amounting to about RM1 million.

Also, two luxury vehicles were seized from the former deputy director, who held the post for 11 years before retiring last year.

But before the public rush to paint a picture about the case, there is a need to take a step back and let the authorities complete their probe.

Things might not be as simple as it seems. The case had revealed loopholes in the management of federal funds allocated to Sabah and this was pointed out as far back as three years ago by the then state legislative assembly speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, who is now Communications and Multimedia minister.

Two days ago, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman acknowledged the problem and called on ministries that receive federal allocations meant to benefit the people to buck up and that the state would monitor the funds closely.

As Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

And for those who have been passing around the blame and not stepping up to tell the truth, another quote from the legendary figure might be more appropriate — “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” Kristy Inus NST News Columnist 20 October 2016 @ 11:01 AM
Tags: power, rasuah
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