Are the latest revelations by the MACC against Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman aimed at propping up Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal?
KUALA LUMPUR: It will be raining money in Sabah in the next general election and this time it will cover more that just tin sheets, roofings, “instant” jetties, beers and and “RM500 ang pows”. Both Chief Minister Musa Aman and national Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal have opened their personal war chests.
Both are Umno members with significant clout in Sabah. While battling for a Barisan Nasional “win” in the next general election, they will also be fighting for their own personal political survival.
It’s an open secret that Sabah Umno is deeply divided between followers of Musa and Shafie.
While Musa sees himself as a “true-to-bone” Sabahan “wanting” a stop to the legalisation of illegals and further influx, Shafie however has allegedly sold his soul to the opulent-living federal Umno leadership and its pledge to seat him as Sabah’s next chief minister.
For Shafie, this is a battle which he must win to prove to his Kuala Lumpur masters that he is indeed the Borneo “prince” of Umno politics.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s not-so-subtle endorsement of Shafie as the next chief minister of Sabah will seal for good Umno’s intentions in Sabah and to some extent its strength in the peninsula.
Under Shafie, Sabah may well leave its doors “permanently” open to more Muslims from neighbouring Philippines and Indonesia as was seen in recent reports of thousands of illegals being given MyKads in Shafie’s Semporna constituency.
In fact, during a trip to Lahad Datu (hometown of Attorney-General Gani Patail) last year, a source told FMT that a commonly asked question when meeting an “arriving” illegal is “are you Muslim?”.
“If he speaks English, they don’t get a letter because it means they are educated and Christians,” said the source.
Najib, Shafie and Musa
That Najib defers to Shafie’s “advice” was stark in the RCI issue.
Following reports that the federal cabinet had approved the setting up of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the millions of immigrants legalised via a dubious project IC scheme in the 1990s, Sabahans had feverishly awaited Najib’s announcement during his visit to Sipitang last month.
But it never happened.
What is known is that Umno warlords from the east coast, where Shafie wields immense influence, had met with Najib secretly the night before the press conference and told him that the legalised illegals were “BN’s fixed deposit and had voted for the party in many elections”.
The day after the “secret” meeting Najib left leaders of the Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties red-faced and embarrassed when he cancelled the press conference and returned to KL.
Among those left standing was Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is PBS president. PBS is Musa’s primary link to the KadazanDusun Murut communities (KDM) at large.
Najib’s about-turn surprisingly riled Musa, who has since thrown his support behind the need for an RCI.
Over the years, Musa has been known to have privately raged over federal Umno’s interference over state issues but the situation has somewhat worsened post-2008.
Umno and its BN partners in the peninsula suffered humiliating defeats in the 2008 general election. Since then the coalition has had to content with the fact that it lost its glint and five states (Perak was wrested back by BN in reverse takeover in 2009).
Unable to bear the drubbing in the peninsula since then and desperately wanting to retain its two-thirds hold in the 13th general election, Umno is pressing down on Sabah and Musa.
And the press-down was and is multi-faceted aimed at discrediting Musa. In each instance, Shafie’s visible and invisible hand was evident.
Last year a new NGO was born calling itself KDM Malaysia. This group is believed to be closely linked to Shafie and the primary mission is to push the Shafie-agenda among the younger Muslim KDMs.
Then came the ruckus calling for Kimanis MP Anifah Aman’s withdrawal from contesting in the Kimanis constituency. Anifah is Musa’s brother and the protest came as a surprise to him. The argument from the protesters was that Anifah was not from Kimanis. The protesters were rumoured to be linked to Shafie.
The drama with Lajim Ukin, Umno’s east coast warlord, was also apparently engineered. Lajim had threatened to defect taking with him “more” Umno leaders. But that matter was quickly settled when Lajim was rumoured to have received a RM150 million road contract.
Then came the RCI drama and revelations that the Home Ministry and National Registration Department (NRD) were issuing MyKads for “free” to stateless children and allegedly others as well.
The location of the distribution was incidentally also in the Semporna parliamentary constituency which Shafie lords over.
Anifah came out slamming the move after a local Bajau native association expressed concerns that its own Sabah-born people were still without identification papers and feared that “new” legalised illegals would take away their “rights” which they are currently enjoying.
And now the latest disclosure by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) that its investigation into alleged Musa’s abuse of power over timber concessions was blocked by family friend Gani has further sealed the views that Najib has cornered Musa.
According to reports, Gani had apparently refused to push the pen on MACC’s investigations into Musa business dealings.
MACC began investigating Musa after an alleged nominee Michael Chia was detained by the Hong Kong authorities at the Hong Kong International Airport in 2008 for attempting to smuggle S$16 million (RM40 million) out of the island. Chia had allegedly told the Hong Kong authorities that the money belonged to Musa.
‘Money coming back’
Later in 2009, PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar in his statement lodged with Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) stated that Musa had “accounts in Hong Kong at UBS AG, Bank of East Asia Ltd, HSBC, Credit Suisse and Citibank”.
He has also revealed that four Musa nominees had been linked to “corrupt and shady practices” involving funds belonging to the Sabah state government and several government-linked companies including Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd, Rakyat Berjaya Sdn Bhd and the Yayasan Sabah group.
The ICAC then froze the accounts pending the completion of its investigation.
The investigations were never completed because Gani refused to sign the necessary documents allowing for an inter-country cooperation to solve the case.
Following the statutory three-year limitation, ICAC unfroze the accounts late last year and the money is all coming back in batches to Sabah in time to buy votes in the “mother of all polls”.