Four months of opportunity cost

Politics is about perception. Perception, not proof, saw the ‘Political Tsunami’ of 8 March 2008 unprecedentedly happened for Barisan Nasional, after eleven plus one general elections. In Malaysia, perception is almost everything in politics.

Two days ago, Women and Family Development Minister Dato’ Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil announced of her resignation from the Federal Government. That is a day before husband and National Feedlot Corporation Sdn. Bhd. Executive Chairman Dato’ Seri Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail was charged for criminal breach of trust and corrupt practices, involving a substantial sum of money allegedly wrongfully utilised which derived from his company’s drawdown of soft loan from the Federal Government.

Tuesday March 13, 2012

NFCorp boss claims trial

By MAIZATUL NAZLINA and TERENCE TOH
newsdesk@thestar.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR: The executive chairman of the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd has claimed trial at the Sessions Court here to two counts of committing breach of trust and two counts of violating the Companies Act 1965 involving RM49.7mil.

Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail, 64, arrived in court at 2.15pm accompanied by his wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, their eldest son Wan Shahinur Izmir and other family members.

The charges were read to Dr Mohamad Salleh at 2.27pm before judge S.M. Komathy Suppiah in a packed courtroom.

The proceedings yesterday marked a new chapter in the NFCorp controversy which arose after the Auditor-General’s 2010 Report highlighted the failure of the National Feedlot Centre to achieve its target, and which grew with revelations that the company had used the government-funded soft loan for purposes not related to cattle breed-ing.

Dr Mohamad Salleh was charged with dishonestly misusing funds amounting to RM9,758,140 through four cheques to partly finance the purchase of two units of One Menerung Condominium in Block B here for the National Meat and Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd, which he owns with one of his sons.

According to the charge, he committed the offence in his capacity as an NFCorp director entrusted with control over the company’s assets.

He is said to have committed the offence at CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd in Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, here between Dec 1 and 4, 2009.

Dr Mohamad Salleh was charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine and whipping.

He is also accused under Section 132(2)(a) of the Companies Act 1965 of committing the offence without approval from an annual general meeting of NFCorp to gain profit directly.

He is also accused of transferring NFCorp’s funds of RM40mil through a cheque into the National Meat and Livestock Corporation’s account at the same bank from May 6 to Nov 16, 2009.

For this, he faces charges of criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Dzulkifli Ahmad, Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Azimul Azami prosecuted while the defence was led by Badrul Munir Bukhari.

Pleading for a lower bail, counsel Badrul Munir said Dr Mohamad Salleh had given his full cooperation to the police and prosecution, and his client was in court to clear his name. He applied to release the accused on a RM50,000 personal bond for each charge.

Dzulkifli said the prosecution had no objection to the application as they did not see why Dr Mohamad Salleh would flee the country. He, however, said the accused should surrender all his travel documents to the court.

Dzulkifli applied to the court under Section 165 of the Criminal Procedure Code for a single trial for all the charges.

Judge Komathy agreed to a single trial and set bail of RM500,000 with one surety for all four charges.

She also ordered Mohamad Salleh to surrender his passport pending mention of his case on April 13.

Wan Shahinur Izmir paid the bail.

Shahrizat was impassive in court and declined to speak to reporters after the proceedings.

*************

The thing is that, Sharizat’s resignation should have been four months earlier. When PKR Strategic Director Rafizi Ramli raised this matter in public domain, referring to the ‘irregularities’ highlighted by the Auditor General’s report, Shahrizat who is UMNO and BN Wanita Chief decided to slug it out. She even used UMNO Assembly platform and her capacity of Wanita UMNO Chief to rally Wanita UMNO members and defend her.

Suami says tidal bersalah!“.

Many UMNO leaders were very uncomfortable with that. Some, even said it in the open for Shahrizat to walk away and even quit, “For the sake of the party”.

However, she was vehemently in denial. She went about town and met with Wanita UMNO Groups. After four months, more and more are being thrown against Dr Salleh and their immediate family, as directors and shareholders of the company which was granted Federal Government aid via soft loan to develop the feed meal and contract rearing of cattles for the Malaysian consumers.

The NFCorp issue a chronology of events

2011

Oct 24 – The Auditor-General’s 2010 highlighted the National Feedlot Centre (NFCorp)’s failure to achieve its target of 8,000 heads of cattle that year. The RM74 mil centre in Gemas, Negri Sembilan only achieved 3,289 heads of cattle or 41% of the target.

Nov 1 – PKR piles the pressure on Shahrizat, demanding that she explain claims of financial mismanagement and corruption in the NFCorp, run by her husband and two of their children.

Nov 15 – The MACC hand over investigations into the alleged multi-million ringgit purchase of a luxury condominium in Bangsar by the NFCorp to the police.

Nov 16 – NFCorp executive director Wan Shahinur Wan Salleh said they had used nearly RM600,000 of its funds to pay for credit card expenses, but pointed out that they were corporate cards used for “business development purposes”

Nov 18 – NFCorp executive chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismaildenied claims that the project was in a mess, claiming they are on track to produce 60,000 heads of cattle by 2015. Salleh also justified the purchase of two luxury condominiums costing RM6.9 mil each, saying the investment would generate an annual yield of some RM900,000 or a 12.9% return of investment rate.

Nov 19 – Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said Bukit Aman had started a probe into the NFCorp

Nov 29 – Shahrizat brushes aside calls for her to quit over her family’s involvement in the NFC scandal, saying that it had nothing to do with her.

Dec 1 – PKR unveil more allegations of financial misappropriation by the NFCorp, claiming that the company ought a luxury car, two plots of land and paid for holiday packages using part of its RM250mil Government soft loan.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Khalid Abu Bakarhowever announces that they found no elements of criminal breach of trust or misappropriation in their ongoing investigation into the NFCorp

Dec 3 – Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein says the probe into the NFC would continue, regardless of the police’s preliminary findings that there were no elements of criminal breach of trust.

Dec 6 – Police say the NFC’s purchase of two RM6.9mil luxury condominiums was kosher as they were registered under a corporate firm and not in the names of individuals.

Dec 24 – The MACC raid the NFC office in Mont Kiara, taking several envelopes filled with documents and a computer, believed to be linked to the various claims levied against the company.

2012

Jan 3 – Shahrizat denies having tendered her resignation, amidst speculation that she had handed over her resignation letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over

Jan 13 – Shahrizat takes leave from her official duties to make way for the MACC’s probe on whether or not she had any involvement in the NFCorp issue.

Jan 15 – Najib confirms that the NFC’s assets are frozen to assist into investigations over alleged misappropriation

Jan 16 – Police conclude their probe into the NFCorp, and present their findings to the Attorney-General for further action.

Jan 19 – Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announces the Government’s decision to appoint an accounting firm to carry out a due diligence and project audit on the NFCorp.

Jan 20 – Shahrizat files a RM100 mil suit against PKR Ampang MP Zuraidah Kamaruddin and strategic director Rafizi Ramli for defamation in connection with the NFCorp issue

Jan 26 – Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang clarifies his department’s 2010 report on the NFC, saying that they highlighted weaknesses in implementation of the project – but never mentioned anything on misappropriation of funds.

Feb 8 – The police resubmit their investigation papers on the NFCorp to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and are awaiting orders on the next course of action, after beefing up their findings at the request of the Attorney-General.

Mar 3 – The Attorney-General returns the police’s investigation papers on the NFC yet again, ordering the men in blue to carry out further investigations.

Mar 8 – Police reveal they are probing a RM1.7 mil apartment cum office purchase by the NFCorp in Khazakhstan, believed to have been made after the company signed an agreement to help the Khazakhstan government breed cattle.

********************

When they reached this juncture where Dr Salleh had to be charged for CBT, fraud and abuse, then only she gave in. Her Cabinet colleagues lauded this move as “Brave and best interest of the party”. The most important questions that UMNO leaders should ask is, “At what cost?”.

It is a politically very costly for BN and UMNO.

On 28 March 2009 when Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak spoke for the first time as the President of UMNO in his acceptance speech at the final moments of that year’s UMNO General Assembly, he promised of three things. One of it is “To combat corruption”. The Malaysian public erosion of confidence to the ruling party has been marred badly by corruption and abuse of power practices, which saw great increase during five and a half years of PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s tenure.

This ‘perception’ issue has actually brought down confidence on Prime Minister Najib’s leadership a few notches, even though he is highly a popular political leader. Example at hand was when we were following a Menteri Besar doing his ‘walkabout’ in three different DUNs In February. This MB went at UMNO/MCA/MIC branch level to understand issues on the ground. We were surprised that one of the top most national agenda that was raised in almost all ‘peti undi’ in these three DUNs was about “NFC scandal”.

We were in London recently. We met separately a handful of Malaysians living and studying abroad, and spoke to them at length over many issues. Some, have been there for over three decades. They follow Malaysian politics very closely. Even the students. They read the blogs. All of them were raising about the “NFC scandal”.

Prime Minister Najib should have been very decisive on this matter, even as far back as late November 2011 (just before the UMNO GA). Anywhere, Malaysians talk about the “NFC scandal”. The big picture comes first. We (these Londoners were in touch) communicated when the news of Shahrizat’s resignation and Dr Salleh’s charge spread very fast to their attention. The point they all raised, “How to ‘repair’ the perception damage and is there enough time before the nest GE?”.

Our answer, “Its a political opportunity cost”. Even we are not convinced of the damage done.

Prime Minister Najib must remind his Cabinet, UMNO Supreme Council, BN High Council and UMNO party members at large in strong bold words that he mean business and do not tolerate issues that is potentially scandalous. Nip it in the bud. Kill before the story is even allowed to bloom in the new media. BN can no longer afford anymore scandal, no matter how trivial. It is politically suicidal.

Wanita UMNO must be made to understand. Their Boss is ‘tainted’. They cannot afford to be sentimental and emotional about it. Shahrizat, should leave Wanita UMNO too. Especially after that closing address to last year’s Wanita UMNO Assembly. It should be an unconditional withdrawal and Wanita UMNO must accept this. These four months of opportunity cost could actually take years to recover.

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Published in: on March 13, 2012 at 08:30  Comments (22)  

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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Absolutely right, politics is about perception. Just like when UMNO framed Anwar, they want rakyat to perceive him as ‘immoral’. However the difference is Anwar maybe perceived as ‘immoral’ person but this is his own business and many rakyat only interested on what is being done to improve their quality of live. For Sharizat, she was perceived as corrupted leader, siphoning rakyat money to her own family in millions. SHe never bother want to explain why money is being used to buy luxury properties under her family name, why own children are made the directors etc. She just denied as treat rakyat like stup;id fools. This is yet another proof that UMNO is full of corrupted leaders that must be booted out in next general election for them to be cleansed if they want to come back cleaner and stronger.

    • No, Anwar is much worse. Not just perception, man, the Courts say he did sodomize. Two Appeal Court Judges said. that. Loud and clear. No two-way about that.

      PR also is full of corrupted leaders. From Nik Aziz admitting accepting RM half mill Ringgit Haji package, RPK revelation of Selangor sand mining corruption, Lim Guan Eng bull dozing of the sPICE project that was awarded to his close associate, a contractor and President of Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

      The rakyat has seen enough of the weaknesses of PR in 2-3 years of ruling a few states such that many of those who voted for them out of disgust with Abdullah Badawi’s flip flopping etc have stated they would not do so in PRU13.

      • Zen, the oppositions want to play the ‘holier than thou’ game and supposedly want to take the moral high ground, but no, this strategy is doomed to fail. Voters are no longer interested in cheap mud slinging and broken promises. Lets say, the chances look bright that the nebulous Pakatan will be sent packing into defeat in the PRU13. The euphoria about their perfect and unblemished image during the 2008 PRU had waned beyond belief , because the nebulous oppositions cannot be believed. This is 2012, not 2008.

      • They simply can’t be holier, Postgrad. When Anwar was found guilty by the Court, Azizah didn’t give up anything. The Court hasn’t even sat in the case of Shahrizat’s husband.

        And holy they never were. Not DAP, by any stretch of the imagination. They were anti-Malay and their so-called Malaysian Malaysia slogan was subversive to the Special Position of the Malays and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak – wanting sama rata without acknowledging that Special Position under Article 153 of the Constitution.

        As has been pointed out repeatedly, they in fact caused the race riots of 1969 – it’s clear from the booklet entitled “The Tragedy of 13 May, A Report, by the National Operations Council, October 1969.”

        Free Malaysia To Day carries an article showing the various constituencies with slim majorities in Selangor – even in the region of just a few hundreds – during PRU12. Just on account of the fact that the anti-Abdullah Badawi protest votes are no longer around, those constituencies are likely to return to the BN fold at PRU13. What more with the disillusionment of the voters upon seeing how PR performed even a year after taking over the state administration.

        Goodness, they can’t even handle the rubbish problem, those rubbish people. Local councils come under DAP Exco Ronnie Liu of banging doors fame – banging SPRM and Hospital Klang mortuary doors after the death of Teoh Beng Hock.

      • This is not about Anuar. Stop putting Malaysia politic with anuar. That is what wrong with you people. We wanna get rid of the tainted umno goon(read leaders). Is that all u can say bout pr? Nik aziz so called 1/2 mil ringgit for umrah, spice n garbage (which by d way r caused by disgruntled former contractor which by d way most probably also umno goon (read leaders)). At least there are some accountability. Please use ur pea brain to question where have most our money has gone… Pkfz, submarine, ipp, petronas coffer, Mas, these should have been cleared by govt but noooo… Coz all of u stupid bastard here r talking bout 1/2mil so-called corruption, u forget the billions that has been lost. Stupid Malay thinker.

      • Lu Botak Chin ka? Mana boleh. Dia sutak mati or still languishing in Kajang prison. No chance to go to Sg Buluh prison pun. Because Sg Buluh mebbe reserved for higher class convicts like Anwar. Haba haba.

      • When you don’t acknowledge Nik Aziz and other PR leaders also corrupt, anything goes, man. You acknowledge they oso corrupt, then we talk about Shahrizat, lah. Baba buba.

    • Aiyoyo

      • Sori, wrongly pressed the Post Comment before putting in content. Here it is:

        You wanna propagandize Lim Guan Eng’s propaganda of so-called clearing some RM600 million debt during 3 years of rule, ha? Tipu, man. Read the explanation by the Deputy Minister of Finance regarding some RM600 mill Penang had to pay on handing over of water facilities for Penang. LGE conveniently treated those as rental, lease or something in the accounts and the figures disappear as “debt”. What the heck man.

        And remember, DAP practices the so-called Three Monkeys gangster culture – No See, No Hear, No talk. DAP membership and supporters include secret societies, thugs and gangsters. Read their role in the booklet “The 13 May Tragedy, A Report, by the National Operations Council, October 19969.” So, not much corruption info gets out on the risk of being maimed, stabbed or shot.

        All the same so much is written in the Chinese press of the approx.RM 1 billion sPICE project and the selling of state land at RM1.07 billion called the Bayan Mutiara project. Why the hell LGE, as Head of Penang Development Corporation, the traditional state housing developers, not develop the land themselves and build plenty of low cost units for the low income group in Penang? Huge kick back from the sale of the state land?

    • Where got “siphoning rakyat money to her own family”? What dis loose talk fellow say? Loose gun shooting from the hip, ha? The woman is not in charge of the bank la, you …… whatever.

    • Poor lgl, most likely you’re a chinese who values money more than morality. Anwar was CONVICTED of sodomy, power abuse and corruption even though he was defended by a team of highly paid lawyers.

      The international observers concurred with the court ruling. But strangely the chinese Malaysians chose to believe in fairytales spun by anwar & family.

      Deep down you know he’s guilty but you as a minority group, need a Malay Muslim face to con the masses (esp PAS followers) and split the votes to give dap an advantage.

      Your tactic to speak for the rakyat sounds hollow and rendered a failure, so stop trying.

      • What a joke! Everyone except stupid UMNO supporters knows that UMNO is very scared of Anwar and want to frame him before the next election. But the truth is Anwar is not important, with or without Anwar, UMNO must be booted out as their leaders are all crooks and corrupted who just robbed the wealth and quality of life of average Malaysian. If you are OK that leader like Sharizat should just continue to live lavishly with rakyat’s money and diverting her family wealth to country like Singapore, please go ahead to support UMNO. But for average Malaysian like us, we just want a clean and caring gov. We don’t want a gov who just waste rakyat fund like their own pocket money.

      • Wo, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng will marah sama lu lorr. They all endorse Anwar as candidate PM but you say Anwar not important ha?

        How come UMNO supporters are stupid – what about you, dopey?

        Who are the “average Malaysian like us”? DAP supporters? What makes you think DAP would be “a clean and caring gov.”? They are not now, and not likely to be in the future.

        Acknowledge what people have said about LGE and sPICE, and Bayan Mutiara etc la.

        If you say they are saintly, what a joke!

      • Poor lgl, are you related to lim guan eng? Could that nic stand for lim guan liew, ling, lai, loh, loo, low, li, lee, lala ……

        When you present your argument using an organ that is not above your neck, you appear LAME, LIMP, LOATHSOME, LOW, LOUSY, LAMENTABLE, LANGUID, LAMEBRAIN, LUNKHEADED, LUNATIC …

        hee hee

  2. Shahrizat was not only counting on her position as Ketua Wanita but also on her being a buddy buddy with Rosmah, her classmate and best friend since TKC. Ask her other classmates and schoolmates on how close they have been for decades. That explains the 4 months wasted of UMNO’s goodwill with the voters.

    Yes indeed, what is important now is for other Wanita leaders to explain to the voters that what was done, not done and done late does not necessarily reflect badly on UMNO’s ability to lead the nation. There are bad apples on every tree and the UMNO tree is mature, resilient, and does shake off the bad apples from its branches from time to time.

    Najib is said to be standing on an egg – the egg won’t break so long as he does not sway much. But he needs to use a long rattan and whack the errant fellas from afar without moving his feet much. What Merdeka Centre says of his 69% popularity rating cannot be relied upon as the poll questions etc could be tailored to a certain political objective, and MC’s Director is a close associate of Anwar who naturally wants an early election before the Sodomy II appeal is heard/ decided upon.

    Wanita, and UMNO generally, must now go the ground, gauge the feelings of voters on the NFC episode, plan ceramahs, seminars and simple meet-the-voters sessions to explain that, even though Shahrizat has not been implicated in any NFC wrong doing except for being a husband and mother to the directors, UMNO had sounded it out to her, and she did take the cue to resign from the Cabinet. That which is honourable despite being 4 months late.

  3. Agree w BD that she has to leave Wanita post too. I think it is non-sensical that some UMNO honchos say it is a “good thing” that she opt “to resign” … if that so said, why not resign from Wanita too?

    I am not very comfortable that this is good for UMNO. Good riddance may not be a harsh thing to say. I just want a clean, untainted, and uncorrupted UMNO … for the longevity of Malay politics. Amen.

  4. Sir,
    Talk is today, during the PM’s meet-and-greet session 3pm in Putrajaya with Wanita Division leaders, the outgoing Wanita Chief’s supporters are going to wear ‘Black’ Baju Kurung and ‘White’ Tudung as a sign of mourning for PM’s refusal to renew the latter’s senatorship.

    Before this, in Johor, some of them too, tried to pin this down on First Lady’s interference.

    The Chief’s son too were making roadshow stating they were not guilty.

    I guess many of among them still in denial.

  5. What “First Lady’s interference”, Mem?

    How’s it related to the fact that Shahrizat and Rosmah have been close friends since school days, as has often been pointed out?

    There’s plenty “talk” lah. Wait until the reliable news agencies report them lah.

  6. Najib is not ‘standing on an egg’. He and BN have worked relentlessly in running this country and that what matters to the people. The PM and BN have performed exceptionally well considering the challenges to have to face. Perhaps the Sharizat factor may yet prove to be not as important as it appears to be. And she is not on trial, anyway. On another note, her popularity, where popularity is an important ingredient in the culture of politics, should not be dismissed or underestimated. Her predicament may actually swing more voters to vote for BN as a way to punish the opposition. Too farfetched? But who knows? The only unhappy folks are the oppositions and they have to mud sling to get people’s attenton. I doubt many will listen to them wide eyed with admiration and trust like they did in 2008. Not anymore except for their die hard fans.

  7. A well written article by BD. He is right to question how the rakyat will respond to the NFCorp revelations. It’s all about perception in Malaysia politics, again, very true. He questions the manner in which DS Sharizat conducted herself after the allegations first came to light. Anyone care to dispute him on this? Anyone able to? I haven’t read any comments supporting DS Sharizat’s actions here.

    Zen also raises a good point when he mentions that those who voted for the opposition in 2008 and who are unhappy with the performance of PR thus far may very well show their unhappiness in PRU13.

    For the record, I am equally disgusted with the illegal sand mining issues in Selangor and the mega projects being bulldozed through in Penang without consulting the rakyat. Voters like me will make their displeasure known in the next GE. Just wait and see…

    DS Anwar? Please……too many revelations / videos have made their way into the open. His reputation is in tatters. I do not want him for a leader to represent me or Malaysia.

    There is a saying : politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and for the same reasons

    Malaysians should vote to reject ALL corrupt politicians! Regardless of which political party they belong to.

    This is what Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz had to say about Sharizat’s resignation:

    http://www.mmail.com.my/story/rafidah-you-call-resigning

    She knows how to call things as she sees them.

  8. It’s good that she left.

    And I pity her ..she was totally fucked up.

    • You meant pity the rakyat … we are all f$$ked ….right?


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