The MACC haul of RM38 million cash, 200kg gold and a fleet of luxury cars seized

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How Saravanan became super rich in foreign workers’ scandal.

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Saravanan Murugan, the Member of Parliament for Tapah since 2008, was appointed as the Secretary of MIC Federal Territory by former MIC president Samy Vellu in 1997. He had also served as deputy minister under Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak administrations. It was not until 2020 that he was made a full minister – Minister of Human Resource – that came with “golden opportunities”.

Born and raised in gang-infested Sentul, it wasn’t hard for Saravanan to click with the big boss of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a component party of the corrupted Barisan Nasional coalition. After all, Samy Vellu was the infamous Godfather of Indian gangsters in the 1980s and 1990s, who served under the Mahathir leadership during his 22 years of iron-fist rule (1981-2003).

When Tamil Malar Daily exposed in 2017 how Saravanan stole from the rental collection of the state MIC building, the then-Deputy Youth and Sports Minister brought mobsters to the media office and beat up its General Manager and staff. The attacks saw journalists and employees of the newspaper company left bleeding, injured and even suffered some broken teeth.

But unlike Bollywood films, there was no happy ending for the poor owner and staff of the Tamil Malar Daily. The despicable MIC leader was as untouchable as Prime Minister Najib, who himself had stolen billions in the 1MDB scandal before he lost power in the May 2018 General Election, and whose party – UMNO – had ruled the country almost uninterrupted since independence in 1957.

Also known as “Ganja Saravanan”, he was never arrested, let alone prosecuted, but was let go with a slap on the wrist. As Human Resource Minister under the illegitimate backdoor PM Muhyiddin Yassin (March 2020-August 2021) and PM Ismail Sabri (August 2021-November 2022), the MIC deputy president boldly enriched himself through corruption and money laundering.

In fact, Saravanan was so corrupt that he actually did not deny the involvement of MIC members in the misappropriation of funds from “PenjanaKerjaya” involving a total of RM100 million. The programme-turned-scandal, under Muhyiddin’s National Economic Recovery Plan, offered financial incentives of between RM600 and RM1,000 to employers for each employee or apprentice employed for up to six months.

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But the biggest dirty money machine was the hiring of foreign workers into the country. On June 16, 2022, Saravanan said that Bangladesh and Malaysia had agreed to a limit of 25 agencies to recruit Bangladeshi workers for Malaysia. However, the next day, Bangladesh’s Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad rubbished the statement.

Imran also clarified that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by both countries did not mention anything about 25 agencies. Worse, despite admitting that there was a surplus of illegal Bangladeshi workers in the country, Saravanan had pushed to bring in more Bangladeshi. And the disgraced human resource minister deliberately set a limit of 25 agencies to create a monopoly.

The clueless, incompetent and corrupt regime of Muhyiddin saw the cost of hiring foreign workers shoot up from about RM16,000 to RM20,000 per worker because various agencies involved had to “share the money at different levels”. The cost of hiring was incredibly ridiculous that Bangladesh refused to send any workers in 2020 – till a transparent system was in place.

The Bangladeshi government wanted the Malaysian government to connect to their online system to detect irregularities but was declined. If the Malaysian labour market is allowed to link directly to the Bangladeshi system, it would kill syndicates and middlemen, ending the monopoly and corruption. It’s not rocket science why Saravanan rejected it – he was on top of the food chain of the lucrative market.

To get an idea of how the business has made Saravanan and his cronies mega-rich, look no further than the latest operation that was carried out by a Multi-Agency Task Force (MATF) led by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Monday (July 24). Over RM38 million cash and 200kg of gold worth over RM60 million were seized along with 17 luxury vehicles such as Ferrari and Maserati.

Involving the police, Immigration Department, Customs Department, Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank), Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) as well as Cyber Security Malaysia (CSM), the special operation saw raids carried out in 34 locations in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor involving 315 officers. The man behind the crimes is “Dato Malik”, the proxy and bag carrier for Saravanan.

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Abdul Malik Dasthigeer, commonly known as “Dato Malik”, was the trusted lieutenant of the former human resource minister entrusted to launder dirty money from the Bangladeshi recruitment business. Also known for distributing Indian movies and bringing in artists from India to perform Tamil concerts in Malaysia, Malik has finally been arrested and grilled by the MACC.

Also arrested was businessman-cum-politician “Datuk V Saravanan Kumar”, who is linked to former ruling party Bersatu, and “Datuk Shafee Zaman”, owner of Tamil newspaper Nanban. More than 30 suspects have been identified by the anti-corruption agency, busting a syndicate involved in corruption, smuggling, money laundering and illegal tax evasion.

Crucially, the MACC has also frozen funds amounting to RM500 million linked to Malik. If this crook has in his possession RM500 million, can you imagine the real wealth of ex-minister Saravanan? There’s a reason why Saravanan was known as “Ganja Saravanan”. In 2021, Malik was exposed by a local newspaper as not only a criminal involved in an illegal smuggling business but also a drug dealer.

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Yes, the MIC gangster did not become a multi-millionaire from his venture into the agriculture business – coconut cultivation – as he would like the people to believe. Rather, it was his venture into illegal businesses, using Dato Malik as his proxy and cover, and links to the underground Mafia that made him super-rich, so much so that he believed he could buy his way out with money.

However, the arrogant politician will not be able to count on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to bail him out this time. Saravanan was a traitor – one of the Barisan Nasional MPs who had signed the Statutory Declaration to support rival Bersatu president Muhyiddin as prime minister after the 15th General Election produced a hung Parliament last November.

Not only Saravanan had betrayed the leadership of UMNO president Zahid Hamidi, but he has shown that he was an untrustworthy ally of the Anwar-led Unity Government. In December 2022, he deliberately went out for lunch and did not return for the counting of votes in the deputy speaker election, causing Alice Lau of Pakatan Harapan to receive only 146 votes instead of 148 two-thirds majority votes.

Like former premier Najib Razak, who is serving 12 years in prison and fined RM210 million for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering, Saravanan is another shameless crook who did not blink twice about stealing RM19 million disbursed for a chilli planting programme to Yayasan NAAM (New Affirmative Action Movement), a foundation led by himself. – Finance Twitter