A Mahathir-ACA flashback with harassment of MACC officers
by Mariam Mokhtar
Seventeen years ago, the director-general of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), Shafee Yahaya was summoned to erstwhile PM, Dr Mahathir Mohamad's office and told to close a particular investigation into corruption, which the ACA was conducting.
Today, a similar harassment of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, MACC, (formerly the ACA) staff, has shocked and angered Malaysians.
Two MACC officers were in police custody and are now out on bail.
In addition, the MACC's special operations director Bahri Mohamad Zin and communications director Rohaizad Yaakob have been transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department, with immediate effect.
The Malay Mail Online reported that "disciplinary issues" were involved.
(Bahri and Yaakob have since been reinstated to their original positions in MACC following public outcry.)
These four men in MACC may have been targeted because they are believed to be involved in the investigations of the 1MDB scandal, in which RM2.6 billion of taxpayers’ money, is unaccounted for.
This money has now morphed into a "donation", by an unnamed middle-eastern benefactor.
Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman
In 1998, an official complaint was lodged with the ACA against the Economic Planning Unit Director-General, Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman.
After a visit to his office, the ACA officials found a wad of cash in a drawer, and Ali could not explain its presence.
The EPU is under the control of the PM's department, and is in charge of overseeing the privatisation of projects.
Shafee was told to report to Mahathir and given a dressing down, before being ordered to close the case.
The former PM had said, "How dare you raid my senior officer's office".
He then asked Shafee if Anwar had ordered the raid and Shafee said, "No."
Upset at the interference in the commission of his job, and the accusation of "fixing" people, a dejected Shafee was ready to resign.
He was encouraged by his wife, Kalsom Taib, to persevere, despite the accusations hurled at him.
The incident happened three months before his retirement.
The scolding, which Shafee received, would have been a matter between the two men, and it only became public knowledge, when Shafee was asked to be a defence witness at Anwar Ibrahim's corruption trial in 2000.
The mainstream media gave this revelation a cursory glance and the matter might have faded into history.
Then, in 2008, the whole matter blew open, when former UN special rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy, was involved in a barrage of correspondence in 'The Sun' paper, from March to April 2008.
Mahathir had attempted to tarnish Shafee's character in a letter sent to'The Sun'.
Shafee's wife was incensed by Mahathir's attack on her husband, and she wrote a book called 'The Shafee Yahaya Story, Estate Boy to ACA Chief' to tell Shafee's side of the story.
Param claimed that there was sufficient evidence to investigate Mahathir, for interfering in the ACA's investigations.
He also said that the ACA's investigation of the EPU Director-General took three years from 1998.
In 2001, the Attorney-General said that the file was closed for "lack of evidence".
The disturbing news was that in September 1998, the EPU director-general was promoted to become the Governor of Bank Negara, where he remained, until April 2000.
Many questions run through our minds, not least the degree of interference and intimidation, by politicians, into the jobs of civil servants.
Another shocking fact is that the Governor of Bank Negara was under investigation for corruption, throughout his tenure.
How can this be possible?
What happened to the police report which was lodged against Mahathir on June 23, 2000, for his role in the interference of an investigation conducted by a civil servant, in 1998?
When asked by reporters about the incident with Shafee, Mahathir claimed not to remember anything about it.