Comments on just about every article by Sarawak Report detailing the sad levels of corruption in Malaysia have tended to include cyber-troopers complaining pitifully that this site has never ‘exposed’ DAP’s leader Lim Guan Eng.
Now, under the coup coalition the MACC has duly produced charges against the opposition leader sending the pro-UMNO cyber-troopers into a new frenzy, demanding that Sarawak Report accuse Lim Guan Eng of alleged corruption over a tunnel that has not yet started construction and the purchase of his (modest) private home.
The purpose is clear, in that the accusers seem to think that if they can claim their opponents are also criminal the multi-billions now proven to have been stolen by their own UMNO ex-leader and the jaw-dropping charges against so many others in their party will somehow no longer matter to electors.
Jho Low famously expressed the exact same sentiment when he first moaned to a journalist back in 2015, after Sarawak Report exposed his original $700 million theft from 1MDB. He complained it was plain unfair when “so many other people” he could think of had apparently ‘got away’ with “ridiculous billions and billions and billions” during decades of BN government:
“There are so many other people who get away with ridiculous billions and billions and billions worth of projects. But every single time there seems to be a political attack, wow, suddenly Jho is there again.” [euromoney.com]“
Like Jho Low, the UMNO sympathisers are hard put to deny the mass corruption of their party, so they seek to deflect instead and complain that ‘others are just as bad’….
Facts vs Defamation for Hire
However, Sarawak Report is an objective news portal that adopts professional standards and deals in facts. Not only is this a point of professional pride and personal dignity, it is basic good practice and prudent journalism.
Direct accusations of corruption or malfeasance need to be backed by solid evidence…or else the publisher can expect consequences, which will definitely include a loss of credibility amongst the respectable and thinking public and very probably disaster and humiliation in the libel courts as well.
This is why the UMNO complainers, who long for accusations against Lim Guan Eng, have had to fall back on their loyal (so long as he continues on his own admission to be paid) blogger ‘RPK’ to make such accusations and not Sarawak Report.
RPK, who appears to revel in clownish self-promotion, is a veteran of successful libel suits against him, which he has dealt with by fleeing Malaysia and claiming he is broke. Sarawak Report aspires to retain its record of not having been successfully sued.
So, no surprise that whilst Sarawak Report has broken story after story subsequently confirmed by wider official investigations and prosecutions to be correct, it is RPK who has specialised in endless vilification of Lim Guan Eng, no doubt to the relief and satisfaction of his politically motivated paymasters.
However, these articles predictably landed the fellow with another libel action just last year, brought by Lim Guan Eng, which he unsurprisingly lost, given the lamentable nature of his ‘evidence’. RPK simply failed to respond and was found guilty by default.
Therefore, Sarawak Report’s answer to the cyber-troopers who complain this portal has not ‘exposed’ Lim Guan Eng is that they should provide evidence that stands the test of scrutiny. Then, Sarawak Report might indeed be willing to dig further – and publish any solid allegations.
Likewise, when documents were circulated alleging a vast global financial empire owned by the PKR defector Azmin Ali (before Azmin hopped over to join RPK’s UMNO/PAS political pals) the self-same blogger published the lot of it.
Sarawak Report, on the other hand, determined those documents to be unreliable and refused, despite having published separate allegations relating to the politician’s profligate travel costs. The latter are substantiated after all, and Azmin Ali has acknowledged them.
Never mind: RPK has apologised to Rosmah Mansor for labelling her a murderess back in the day and doubtless has apologised also to Azmin Ali – after all they are now all on the same side of the political divide.
Same Old Discredited Evidence?
This past history of the long-running saga of accusations against the DAP leader has taken on a new significance now that for the very first time the Malaysian authorities have actually charged the UMNO/PAS bête noire (despite Lim Guan Eng having generously bailed them out of their own financial difficulties in at least two states during his period as Finance Minister).
The reason being that the charges against this top political target appear to be based on a twisted account of the exact same flimsy ‘information’ on which RPK based his earlier attacks, namely an affidavit made to the MACC by a businessman from the construction industry back in January 2018 after he was arrested by the previous BN regime who had also been seeking to discredit the DAP leader just before the last election.
The businessman, Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, represented the company Zenith which had won the main contract for the so-called Penang undersea tunnel project.
RPK ‘leaked’ this affidavit on his site and claimed it showed Lim Guan Eng had solicited a 10% profit bribe from this manager and that it said “Zarul Ahmad told the MACC in a signed statement that the amount of kickbacks involved comes to about RM3 billion”.
It needs pointing out that this famous project has remained on the drawing board for some ten years, whilst the butt of continuous accusations of corruption by UMNO against DAP. So, the sum is academic as there has been no profit either way.
Zarul Ahmad Testified the “10% Profit Bribe” Was Not Solicited
Moreover, reading the affidavit released by RPK it becomes clear that, despite the blogger’s claims, this witness did not, in fact, accuse Lim Guan Eng of soliciting a 10% bribe or taking RM3 billion in kickbacks.
It also makes it clear that the witness (according to this leak at least) has no way of proving that other lesser accusations he makes against Lim Guan Eng and several others (including a number of UMNO MPs) of accepting cash donations are true. It is all one man’s word, without a shred of evidence.
What the narrative of this witness indicates is that when he allegedly raised his offer of the “10% profit bribe” privately to Lim Guan Eng, the businessman got no reply or acceptance from the Penang politician – he merely thought he detected a smile.
Moreover, Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli goes on to explain how he later rescinded that ‘10% profit’ offer when Lim Guan Eng explained his project must go through an open public tender – and in response to that the DAP leader did not comment or complain or solicit for the money to be paid:
“Mr. Lim Guan Eng told me that if I could implement the MOU, the project would be given to me. Only Lim Guan Eng and I were in my car. I give my consent to Lim Guan Eng to make the MOU event a success as proposed by Lim Guan Eng. I feel happy and confident in what Lim Guan Eng said to me to give the project my estimated RM7 billion. After that, I told Lim Guan Eng that I would give 10% of the profit of the project later. I can not confirm/ recall, whether Lim Guan Eng had asked how much I would give him. The point of the 10% was that it is the bribe money I will give Lim Guan Eng. “I thought I saw Lim Guan Eng smile when I said I’d give him 10%. Lim Guan Eng did not say No [to the offer] nor say he did not [want it]. Then Lim Guan Eng arrived at Hotel Garden and I passed on…
…After CZCSB was awarded a tender by the Penang government on 23.1.2013, I explained again about the 10% portion of bribe money to Lim Guan Eng when I spoke to Lim Guan Eng in the car on the way to the Garden Hotel that night, the 10% portion was cancelled because I obtaining this tender is through an open tender process. The 10% promise is if I am awarded a tender directly negotiable.” [translation by Google]
This is doubtless why the prosecutors for the former BN government of Najib Razak, (who was himself accused of receiving RM17 million in bribes through an intermediary in the same affidavit) did not pursue the matter. The intermediary was later identified as a conman and charged.
It would also explain why under the subsequent Pakatan Harapan government the Attorney General’s Chambers said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the many politicians of both parties cited by the Zenith director of receiving his large cash payments.
The reason for these generous alleged gifts, explained Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, was that he didn’t want politicians holding up his projects from either side, but he clearly couldn’t prove he had paid them as he kept no receipts or evidence of the supposed cash payments during private meetings that could not be proven – and he no evidence either that any of these payments had been illegally solicited as bribes.
Compare that to the devastating documentation showing the thefts from 1MDB, the Sarawak School Solar project, Musa Aman’s timber kickbacks and indeed the evidence now being brought over the string of corruption charges involving a ‘foundation’ used to channel millions of ringgit into the back pocket of the current UMNO leader Zahid Hamidi.
In short, why should Sarawak Report seek to find an equivalence and publish such dodgy claims against Lim Guan Eng and the other politicians mentioned (such as Nazri Aziz, Nur Jaslan and Abdul Azeez Rahim) only to invite lawsuits over what cannot be proven?
Were the MACC Ordered to Throw Some Mud?
Nonetheless, it would seem that this week’s belated charges by the MACC against Lim Guan Eng are based on these very same flimsy and previously discarded allegations.
Last week’s charge sheet appeared to give the game away by citing the alleged 10% profit allegation, but with an added claim by the MACC that the DAP leader had solicited the proffered bribe (thereby qualifying it as a criminal act).
The charge reads as follows: “That you, on March 2011, at a location near the Gardens Hotel, Syed Putra Circle, Mid Valley City, in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, during your tenure as chief minister of Penang, have solicited a bribe, namely a reward in the form of 10 percent of the profits that will be obtained later from Zarul Ahmad Bin Mohd Zulkifli, as a fee to help the company owned by Zarul Ahmad to be appointed to carry out construction of the main roads and tunnels in the Penang undersea tunnel project.
“Therefore, you have committed an offence under Section 16 (a) (A) of the MACC Act 2009 which is punishable under Section 24 (1) of the same Act.
“Any person who commits an offence under Section 16 of the MACC Act 2009 may upon conviction be subject to – a) imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years and b) fined not less than five times the amount or value of the bribe” [Malaysiakini]
The above would imply that the evidence the MACC is relying on is that same old leaked affidavit relating to a discussion between two men in a car on the way to the Garden Hotel, since they have come up with no further matters on which to base the charge and only two persons were witness to that event.
Has Lim Guan Eng stunningly confessed or has the witness two years on suddenly changed his recollection to confirm after all that Lim Guan Eng did actively solicit the bribe he offered in that car?
If so, has Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli also contradicted his earlier account, which was that Lim Guan Eng made no demand when he later told him that ‘10% of the profit’ offer was rescinded due to the requirement of the open tender?
Or, has the MACC merely been put under intolerable pressure to dredge up at least some mud from these ancient accusations to throw against Lim Guan Eng, as UMNO/PAS position themselves for a snap election?
Whichever, Sarawak Report can make no comment since we have seen no evidence to properly indicate or confirm that there is a shred of truth to the allegations against Lim Guan Eng. We strive for the truth and have no desire to be sued over potentially fake stories.
Never mind, disappointed cyber-troopers can gain solace reading RPK instead. – Sarawak Report