Probe into alleged wrong use of billions of ringgit by PN govt must be transparent, thorough – C4 Center

File photo of The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism team during the launch of a report on corruption.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 – The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center) has called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the alleged misappropriation of billions of ringgit during the administration of the previous Perikatan Nasional government.

Responding to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement today that the PN administration had allegedly misappropriated tens of billions in ringgit in violation of proper procedure during its term, C4 Center said this had highlighted an urgent need for further insight and transparency.

In a statement issued today, it said those found responsible should be swiftly brought to justice.

“Prior to this announcement, the previous PN administration led by former Prime Minister Muyiddin Yassin had been dogged by allegations of misappropriation of up to RM600 billion. Muhyiddin has vehemently denied the allegations, citing them as politically motivated, or that this sum was the result of misattribution to financial schemes that did not actually involve government expenditure such as Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals and loan moratoriums. 

“Anwar Ibrahim has since confirmed that the RM600 billion figure mostly comprised EPF withdrawals and loan moratorium as stated by Muhyiddin, but that there were still tens of billions spent that pointed towards impropriety. Anwar also indicated that there were several important companies that had family ties to people in politics.”

C4 Center also raised an earlier statement made by Anwar that money misappropriated by the previous administration went to “certain parties” for use during the 15th General Elections.

“This was after claiming that certain parties were receiving funding from gaming companies, and that some companies in the gambling industry had a hand in financing elections. Anwar decreed yesterday that the frequency of special lucky draws made annually would be decreased to 8 from 22, as was previously the case during the PN administration. 

“These allegations, should they be found truthful, constitute grievous abuse of power and abandonment of the mandate to serve the Rakyat by the previous administration.

“Crucially, this is not merely a matter of principle – if billions were misappropriated for self-enrichment or lost through leakages, that is billions in taxpayers’ money that was deprived from life-saving medical services and welfare programmes. This is especially heinous considering that Malaysians continue to be ravaged by a pandemic that killed thousands and plunged hundreds of thousands more into economic insecurity.”

C4 Center also said investigations into these allegations must be transparent and not behind close doors due to the gravity of the situation.

“The current administration must provide details of the relevant institution that is leading investigations. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), as a bipartisan, independent institution accountable to Parliament, should take the lead on investigations,” it suggested, adding that progress reports must be made publicly available.

The findings should also be presented to the public, and tabled in the Parliament, it said.

“Reforms that ensure transparency and accountability in governance must be given urgent priority, specifically enacting Procurement, Political Financing, and Asset Declaration Acts, and also further-reaching institutional checks and balances such as MACC independence and the establishment of an Ombudsman answerable only to Parliament. 

“The Procurement Act is of particular importance here – no doubt, excessive procurements without tender were able to be made on the basis of an emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. A Procurement Act would serve to outline and delineate the limits in which procurements can be made in possible future emergencies instead of allowing unchecked Executive power to decide arbitrarily.

“Likewise, the Political Financing Act carries similar significance here as the previous PN administration was alleged to have received external funding from private entities, thus prioritising the interests of these private entities over public interest. If left unchecked, the ever-tightening business-political nexus results in state capture, whereby the interests of businesses completely overtake those of society and its people at large.”