Yesterday’s charges against Saudara Lim Guan Eng, as well as that against his wife and a certain businesswoman, has nothing to do with the infamous bungalow purchase. Or does it?

Meanwhile, at least four enforcement officers have been arrested in connection with an illegal gambling protection racket, with others being investigated; the furore over political appointments in GLCs continues; two Covidiots have been arrested after they were seen with pink wristbands on; and, the Sabah interim CM takes a dump on his opponents.

Is it double jeopardy?

Double trouble

So, we all thought the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had somehow found a way to take advantage of the loophole in the double jeopardy ruling and would charge former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon over the whole bungalow purchase incident again. 
 
We thought wrong. But really, when we learned that Nobita’s wife Betty Chew was arrested and would be charged as well, this should have been the clue, considering her name was nowhere near the whole bungalow episode at any time.
 
While everyone was playing the guessing game, it’s highly likely no one came even remotely close to the answer. LGE was, instead, charged with using his position as the then Penang Chief Minister and chairman of the Penang Development Corporation’s tender committee to obtain gratification of RM372,009 for Chew through private company Excel Property Management and Consultancy Sdn Bhd by ensuring that another company, Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd, was offered a proposal request for a workers’ quarters project in Batu Kawan worth RM11.61 million.
 
Phang was charged with abetting Lim, while Chew was charged with three counts of money laundering over the same amount. The offences were alleged to have taken place between Aug 19, 2013 and March 3, 2016. All, of course, pleaded not guilty to the charges. 
 
Here’s the thing, though. Even though on the face of things, there is no connection to the bungalow purchase, the lawyer for Phang says the current claims were indeed brought up during the trial for that case, in which both Lim and Phang were acquitted. So, is this a case of double jeopardy then?
 
In this report upon the acquittal of both Lim and Phang in the previous bungalow purchase graft case in 2018, it was stated that the charges were withdrawn because it was difficult to prove that Guan Eng knew the amount was “inadequate”. But, buried somewhere in the middle of the piece is another reason.
 
This reason was that there was nothing to connect to allegations that Lim had abused his position to gain gratification for him and his wife, by allegedly approving an application to convert agriculture land to a public housing zone by Magnificent Emblem. So, these allegations, then, had been brought up during the bungalow trial. 
 
(We have covered this issue of double jeopardy ad nauseum over the past couple of newsletters, so you can actually look at yesterday’s BTL here to get the lowdown on it.) 
 
Our not-so-happy couple later held a press conference where Guan Eng said the psychological target of the cases against Chew and Phang was him. They were collateral damage, he said, in the political war against him. 
 
And here’s the best part: Lim says the MACC couldn’t even show possession of corrupt funds as Magnificent Emblem never even got the project… it was given to another company after another tender was called.
 
So, how does MACC charge three people with an offence if the money trail isn’t there and the company which was supposed to have gotten the project didn’t even get it? We really can’t figure that one out, but there must be some “evidence”, right? Otherwise, wouldn’t it be just a huge waste of everyone’s time? But then again, who know’s what’s possible in Bolehland?
 
MACC big kahuna Azam Baki, however, dismissed Tokong’s suggestion that the commission was being unfair. The graft busters are always professional and transparent, was all he would say. 
 
Guan Eng’s case aside, the MACC was rather busy yesterday in several places other than Penang. Four Shah Alam City Council members were arrested on suspicion of being involved in a protection racket for gambling dens in Sungai Buloh. Three were detained earlier in the day while the fourth was nabbed when he turned up at MACC headquarters in Putrajaya about 5pm. And more could be involved
 
This follows the circulation of a video claiming that police and city council officers were involved in covering up illegal gambling and illegal cigarette trade in Sungai Buloh, for which, ironically enough, the person who made the allegations is being investigated.
 
Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin thanked the whistleblower, a burger seller, though he says the public should use the proper channels to lodge complaints. Funny, right? Thank him but investigate him? Well, don’t worry cos Hammie says police will only question the whistleblower so that the proper action can be taken regarding what he reported. 
 
In other corruption-related news, former MACC head honcho Shukri Abdull says he had never received or acted on any instruction from PM7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad to unfreeze a tycoon’s bank account. This follows accusations from de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan that Maddey and LGE had interfered in the MACC’s investigations into the 1MDB scandal by “requesting” the tycoon’s accounts be unfrozen. 
 
Just who is this mega rich businessman? Well, he’s a property tycoon who got involved in the whole 1MDB scandal cos nine transfers to the rather melodic tune of RM31.103 million was transferred to his bank account from the same bank accounts linked to the RM2.6 billion donation Najib Razak claimed to have received from the Saudi royal family. There’s a little write-up here about Lim Peng Soon and his involvement in the scandal. 

Last but by nowhere near the least, the Attorney-General’s Chambers has filed an appeal against the RM210 million fine and 12-year jail sentence imposed on Jibby for his SRC International trial. The prosecution is looking to increase the sentence. 
 
It’s gonna be a long, long journey before we see any sort of conclusion to this whole SRC International thingy, let alone the other 1MDB-related cases against the Jibster. There are gonna be appeals and counter-appeals till we grow sick.
 
But at least we’re getting somewhere, and if the courts could find it in the public’s best interests to expedite the cases/appeals, that would be great.

Comedy court

There seems to be no abating whatsoever in the appointment of politicians to positions within government-linked companies (GLCs).
 
The latest to be appointed to such a position is Umno man and former Perak MB Zambry Abd Kadir, who was made chairman of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB). He replaces Zainun Ali, who resigned yesterday. 
 
The Muhyiddin Yassin administration has long come under fire for the spate of political appointments to positions in GLCs, and there is even an audio tape purportedly of our fearless leader laying out a plan to lure Umno MPs to support him with such posts. But while the MACC has investigated the audio recording, there is no telling what the outcome is as of now, nor does it seem like Moo is bothered by it all. 
 
The best part is that Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz defended the appointments yesterday, saying that these appointments helped check and balance the GLCs by ensuring that these firms met the aspirations of the gomen. Political appointments will balance out corporate needs which are more profit oriented, he says, while fulfilling the people’s expectation. 
 
We couldn’t help but laugh at that one. What’s even funnier was our moneybags minister says only “fit and proper” politicians were appointed based on their abilities, expertise, background, experience, personality, integrity and responsibility.
 
Let’s not even touch on integrity and responsibility. Let’s look at expertise, background and experience. What does Zambry – whose education background is in politics and religion – know about running an airport, let alone an entire country’s worth of airports? Take a look at the other politicians appointed to GLC posts. How many of them can say they have the expertise or experience of running their respective GLCs?

Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman is public transport operator Prasarana chairman. His education? An economics degree. His work experience in the corporate sector? God knows. MIC’s P. Kamalanathan is the new Labuan Port Authority chairman. His background? Public relations man. Which means he likely knows as much about ports as he does the dark side of the moon. 
 
Perhaps our genius finance minister could have gotten away with the “check and balance” between corporate aspirations and government aspirations part. But adding that bit about “fit and proper” and touting their expertise and experience was just laughable – and that’s us being kind.
 
In a related bit of news, a DAP MP has questioned whether it’s halal for political leaders to offer endorsement letters to their supporters. This, after a video emerged of a Bersatu Youth hopeful offering such letters to those who supported him in the party’s elections later this year. 

We had that same question swirling in our own heads, as screwed up as they are, when the video clip first came out.

Covidiots rock... NOT!

Some people just never learn. We’re talking about Covidiots, of course.
 
It’s bad enough we have the Sivagangga cluster, which has affected several states all because a restaurant owner in Kedah, now the subject of a possible suit by several NGOs, decided to forego his mandatory 14-day quarantine and go to his damned eatery, eventually infecting 45 people. 
 
Now, however, we have two irresponsible little bags of excrement from a targeted enhanced movement control order (TEMCO) area in Perlis deciding they don’t have to play by the rules. These Covidiots were nabbed when they were spotted – at no less than the Kangar Inland Revenue Board office where they had intended to fill out the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) application form – with their bright pink wrist bands. A dead giveaway if ever there was one. 
 
Now, we don’t know if these two prime examples of how sad the shallow end of human gene pool can be are Covid-19 positive, but if they are, they have put all those they had come into contact with, whether at the IRB office or anywhere else, at risk. Sadly, we don’t know whether the authorities will be doing any contact tracing in this case, but we sure do hope they do.
 
There were no new infections in the Sivagangga cluster yesterday, though 564 people related to the cluster are still awaiting their results. Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced that the country recorded nine new Covid-19 cases, five of which are imported ones. This brings the total number of infections recorded in the country to 9,103. There were also six recoveries, meaning the number of active cases climbed slightly, to 169. 
 
Anyhoo, here are some other bits of Covid-related news which came out yesterday:

  • The moratorium on loan repayments during the MCO is estimated at RM66 billion as at end-July. 
     
  • There was some good news, however, as unemployment eased slightly in June, at 4.9% from the previous month’s tally of 5.3%. 
     
  • The government will reduce the ceiling retail price of 3-ply face masks from RM1.20 per piece to RM1 a piece. It will be reduce further in the future. The gradual reduction in prices is to reduce losses for importers. 
     
  • The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is working on strategies to draw visitors to Malaysia once our borders are reopened. However, the previous plan to open a travel bubble with “green countries” has been found to be impractical. Instead, the bubble will involve “green zones”. 

I am the one and only

Warisan president and now former Sabah CM Shafie Apdal took a dig at his opponents in the upcoming state elections yesterday when he said, unlike the opposition, he was the only Warisan Plus candidate to helm the Land Below the Wind. Naming four people in the family of former CM Musa Aman who could be fighting for leadership, Shafie said there was no dispute in his alliance as to who could lead the state if Warisan Plus were to defend Sabah. 
 
The man speaketh the truth, really. There is no doubt that he is the Warisan Plus candidate for CM should they successfully defend their position in the state. But the opposition is in disarray.
 
Musa had claimed majority control of the state assembly but was thwarted in his attempt to be named CM when the Sabah governor decided to dissolve it instead. Following the decision, Musa’s claim to the CM-ship should the opposition come into power would be disputed as word of a Bersatu-Umno team taking control wafted through. 
 
To make matters worse, Musa’s own brother, former foreign minister Anifah, has said that the elder Aman family member should retire. That may have stung, at least a little, but our man is not showing any signs of worry, saying he welcomes the competition
 
Anyway, as usual, there were a bunch of bitty stories yesterday which we thought you should know about:

  • Despite a string of members frogging it over to the new party being set up by Maddey Mohamad and attempts to lure more over, one Bersatu supreme council member says the party remains strong. OK then. Whatever you say. 
     
  • Pakatan parties agreed that PKR president Anwar Ibrahim could be their PM candidate only if he could swing a simple parliamentary majority within a certain timeframe, says Amanah comms director Khalid Samad. Wait, we thought frogging was frowned upon by Pakatan? Guess we were wrong. 
     
  • Government backbenchers have called for the withdrawal of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission Bill, saying it’s a form of persecution of the police force. Yeah. Sure. Cos the IPCMC is not about creating a force with integrity, but so we can persecute the force. Sheesh! But here’s what’s even better – the Home Minister wants to place the IPCMC under his ministry! Which part of ‘independent’ don’t you understand, dude?
     
  • Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar “Art” Harun and Deputy Speaker Azalina Othman Said have filed an application to strike out a suit brought by dear ol’ Mads Mohamad challenging their appointments. Meanwhile, the Melaka State Speaker and Deputy Speaker have filed similar applications to strike out Pakatan’s bid to challenge their appointments. 
     
  • The government will leave Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on the list of terror organisations. Cos, you know, a defunct organisation is still a national threat. At this rate, they’ll probably de-list ISIS before LTTE. 🙄
     
  • Police are investigating two of their own for negligence after a handcuffed man broke free from their custody at the George Town court complex and jumped to his death. 
     
  • Police have arrested a cyber-bully after a 17-year-old girl committed suicide. They seized his mobile phone which allegedly contained nude pictures of her and other people. He is believed to have used the same tactics against others. Good. Throw the damn book at this sick idiot. 
     
  • The KL High Court has reduced a RM3,000 fine imposed on a man for attempted suicide to a good behaviour bond. Great, cos those who attempt suicide need help, not prosecution. The government should look into doing away with this archaic law. 
     
  • And last but not least, this story which hasn’t been picked up by the media yet: There’s been a fair amount of chatter on Twitter about alcohol and driving. The gist of it is that some people are advocating for the banning of alcohol because it causes accidents, rapes and whatnot. These folk are using Shariah as their guiding principle. To cut a long story short, most of the arguments for the banning of alcohol are pretty stupid, short-sighted and driven by religious dogma as opposed to a real desire to solve problems like rape or road safety. Now, excuse us while we go ponder this problem over a nice single malt.

“The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.”

- Stephen King -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • There are now nearly 202 million Covid-19 cases worldwide, with more than 736,000 deaths, but the end of the pandemic could be at hand as Russia has declared that it is the first to come up with a vaccine against the coronavirus. Scientists, however, say they can’t trust the claims without trial data. 
     
  • Meanwhile, New Zealand has recorded its first infection in months and has placed Auckland, its largest city, under lockdown. 
     
  • US presidential candidate and former VP Joe Biden has picked Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate. She is the first black and South Asian woman to be picked for a major ticket in the presidential elections. 
     
  • Beirut has held a vigil for the more than 200 people killed in a massive chemical explosion in the Lebanese capital a week ago. 

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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