MACC probe into Mat Sabu’s aide shows how friends jostle for posts

Mohamad Sabu’s appointment as defence minister was accompanied by a scurry of requests from friends and associates hoping to serve under him. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: An investigation into an aide of Mohamad Sabu involving a large sum of money deposited into his bank account will show how friends and associates of Pakatan Harapan politicians jostle for positions in ministries.

An aide to Mohamad is reportedly being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which has been tasked with ensuring all aides and political officers of ministers were free of dubious dealings before they could be formally appointed.

It is believed that the anti-graft body is investigating transactions totally RM800,000 which were deposited into the aide’s bank account, soon after the defence minister took his oath of office.

The aide, in his mid-40s, is said to be close to the Amanah president, and was chosen from dozens of other close friends who were also vying for senior posts under the minister.

“He is loyal, and has been with Mat Sabu during thick and thin, including when Mat Sabu was in political wilderness after being sidelined from PAS and eventually exiting the party to form Amanah,” a source close to the Amanah leader told FMT.

The source said soon after Mat Sabu was named by Dr Mahathir Mohamad to helm the defence portfolio last May, he was flooded with requests and “pitching” from friends and party supporters to serve as his aides.

“But it was clear from the beginning that his choice would be this guy due to his dedication,” the source said, naming the person.

Mat Sabu’s choice did not sit well with many of Mat Sabu’s close friends who are also gunning to be an aide in one of the most powerful ministries.

“Many of these friends are so-called leftists who do not have a fixed income. They come from Amanah, from other component parties, as well as activists who need the financial stability,” said the source.

“Naturally, not everyone can be satisfied.”

The source said the revelation that MACC was investigating the aide was timed to coincide with his swearing-in this week, hoping to scuttle the appointment and eventually make the post vacant.

“Other allegations were thrown to lessen his chances, including accusing him of being a Shia,” said the source, adding that such attacks were “not strange” in the Mat Sabu camp.

“Mat Sabu himself has been labelled a Shia by his detractors over his political sympathy for movements such as the Hizbullah,” the source said.

The source confirmed to FMT that the aide had been declared bankrupt by the Insolvency Department even before Amanah was formed.

It was an obstacle that the aide must clear, and the only way was to come up with cash to clear the debts.

The source said the aide then approached close friends – “about a dozen of them” – to help him settle some RM800,000 in personal debts .

FMT has learnt that during the vetting process by MACC, the aide had furnished the anti-graft body with detailed documents of those who lent him the money, with every transaction specified.

“The monies were deposited in various amounts, from as little as RM10,000 to over RM100,000, totalling RM800,000.”

The problem faced by the aide is not uncommon everytime a new minister takes office, and it was more apparent in the aftermath of Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the May polls which saw scores of vacant positions in high political offices.

These positions include political secretaries and press secretaries, seen as the backbone to the ministerial office especially in dealing with public perception.

Meanwhile, the source told FMT that it is highly unlikely that MACC would find elements of corruption in the whole affair.

“But the negative perception has already been created in Mat Sabu’s office, especially when he had assumed the post on the back of widespread public euphoria,” said the source.