PETALING JAYA: Rafizi Ramli is hoping that opposition supporters, especially those who have been supporting his whistleblowing efforts, will now back him with their wallet.
In a statement released yesterday, the PKR vice-president made an appeal for funds to help pay a RM300,000 demand from the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) over a defamation lawsuit which the company won.
“A few weeks ago, my lawyer received a demand letter asking for the RM300,000 to be paid. Otherwise they threatened to commence a bankruptcy proceeding against me.
“My appeal against the verdict will only be heard in October 2017 and thus, unfortunately, I have to comply,” Rafizi said of the amount which comprises RM200,000 in damages and RM100,000 in costs to NFC and its chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
Going on to explain how he got into this situation, the Pandan MP said it all started with the 2010 Auditor-General’s report on NFC.
“In 2011, while preparing a parliamentary speech for Anwar Ibrahim, I came across the 2010 Auditor-General’s report on NFC. It did not tell much, but it did highlight that the project was encountering many problems.
“I decided to travel down to Gemas to verify the progress of the publicly-funded project myself. I introduced myself as a wholesale meat seller from Ampang who wanted to buy some cows. What I discovered led to a series of revelations on how RM250 million of public funds was used to buy condominiums and to fund other business ventures.”
In 2011, Rafizi was pushed into the limelight after exposing NFC’s purchases of luxury condominium units through the federal government loan that was meant for the national cattle-farming project.
The Auditor-General’s 2010 report had highlighted the failure of the NFC project in achieving its target of breeding 8,000 cattle in Gemas, Negri Sembilan, in 2010, besides noting NFC’s management failures.
Highlighting it as only one of many other exposes since, Rafizi said he has also worked with journalists to expose the Mara scandal in Australia, the financial irregularities at Tabung Haji and the scrutiny over 1MDB’s investments.
“Our work to combat corruption exposed us to a number of risks. It is common to be detained and investigated upon making a police report, so after a while I only make a police report when it is absolutely necessary. There were times when I had to spend some nights in the lockup.
“The biggest risk, however, is the series of lawsuits against you. For every big expose we made, it is accompanied with at least one lawsuit. That explains why I have 12 running criminal and civil cases at the moment.”
He added that he had to shoulder the responsibility so that journalists could be protected from possible legal liability and to “bring the story to the kampung people so that they understand what corruption has done to this country”.
“The NFC scandal is long gone and is mostly forgotten. But six years on, my lawyers and I are still going up and down court rooms every month to attend to the legal aftermath.
“I am due to be sentenced later this year for allegedly breaching the banking secrecy regulation in the process of exposing the scandal. On top of that, I have to fork out RM300,000 to pay to NFC, its owners and lawyers,” he said, adding that his only intention was to contribute to the “rebuilding of our nation, in one way or another”.
As to the reason that he needs to make a public appeal for funds to settle the suit, Rafizi said he has spent almost all his personal savings on starting and sustaining Invoke, a policy institute linked to PKR.
“I hate to do a public appeal because I was not raised to go around with a begging bowl. Invoke was started to help us have a better chance at winning the next general election.
“If you think what we do to expose corruption is a worthy cause, please contribute so that we can keep doing it. If you feel what we do so far will not be in vain, please forward this to as many people as possible so that we get more Malaysians to chip in.”
All those wishing to contribute are asked to visit a page on the Invoke website –
https://www.invokemalaysia.org/contribute/ or make a donation to INVOKE Solutions’ account – Maybank (Account number: 5622 0964 0698)