Friday, July 30, 2010

Corruption Charges: For those who were at the very top, wipe their mouths after eating

More high-profile arrests involving Members of Parliament and state assemblymen can be expected in the next few days following the arrest of former MCA president and ex-Transport Minister Ling Liong Sik on corruption charges related to the Port Klang Free Zone financial debacle.

“Within the next week or so, you can expect to see a few MPs and ADUNs hauled up,” says an Umno watcher.

“Pakatan Rakyat can sneer all they want at Najib but he knows this is the only way to regain public trust and confidence. He is also aware his time is running out and he has to get cracking.”

The source was referring to Prime Minister Najib Razak, who on Wednesday went on sudden leave until August 10.

Selangor Umno and MCA

Speculation is rife he is trying to spruce up his image ahead of elections widely expected to be held soon. The 10th Sarawak state election is expected in October this year, while national polls are likely to be held some time in the latter half of 2011.

Among those likely to be arrested in the coming days are several top leaders in Selangor Umno including former chief ministers. And if MCA leaders were shocked by Ling’s arrest on Thursday, they should brace themselves for more quakes to rock their party.

The Umno source declined to divulge names, but several possibilities include former leaders like Muhammad Muhammad Taib and Chan Kong Choy. Both have been accused of wrongdoing in the past but have always denied involvement.

More aggressive than 2004 swoop

Despite the latest swoop, the most extensive since 2004, Ling is likely to be the highest ranking leader to be nabbed. There are also fears that a deal has been brokered and Ling will be able to extricate himself from the charges later on.

“Najib cannot do everything at one go. At this point in time, this is what is possible and there are already many big names involved. It is much more aggressive than the clean-up Pak Lah launched prior to the 2004 general elections," said the Umno watcher.

"As for Ling, if he hires the best lawyers to fight for him, what's wrong if they can get him off. Only time will tell - on our part, we didn't fix anything.This is the nature of the legal system and also his personal human rights."

Wiping one's mouth

Nevertheless, while Malaysians would welcome more arrests, particularly those who have long been under public suspicion, the swoop is likely to fall flat unless the biggest fishes are also nabbed..

To them, if top Umno guns like former premiers Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Badawi, his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and even former International Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz are left untouched, it would reflect a lack of political courage on Najib's part.

Najib himself has also been accused of high-level graft in the Scorpene submarines case.

“At the end of the day, you need solid evidence. For those who were at the very top, maybe they have been smart enough to know how to wipe their mouths after eating. It won't be easy to catch them. We too want a better Malaysia but it cannot happen overnight,” the Umno watcher said.

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