Friday, September 25

Remand order against two ‘Datuk’ extended by two days to facilitate MACC probe


The two suspects being escorted by MACC personnel at the courthouse after the proceeding. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Sept 11): The remand order against the two company directors arrested by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has been extended for another two days to facilitate further investigation into the allegation of falsifying claims on a “Jiwa Murni” rural road project worth RM800 million.

The extended remand, which will expire this Sunday, was allowed as the MACC required more time to complete their probe.

Initially, the two high profile suspects, with the ‘Datuk’ title, were placed on a two-day remand following their arrest in a special MACC operation here on Tuesday (Sept 8).

As of today, the two suspects have added one lawyer each to their respective legal team.

Counsels Shankar Ram, Lim Heng Choo and Wong King Wei are representing the 44-year-old suspect while Counsels Albert Tang, Allan Lao, Lidwina Kiew and Roger Chin are representing the 42-year-old suspect.

The case is being investigated under Sections 16 (b), 17 (a) and 18 of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission Act 2009, which carries penalties of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the gratification which is the subject matter of the offence, upon conviction.

The Defence Ministry’s project “Jiwa Murni” programme involved the implementation of 10 rural road upgrading works at Miri, Kapit, Ba’Kelalan, Limbang and Belaga.

The MACC in a statement on Tuesday claimed the two company directors were partners owning three companies that monopolised the project.

These rural roads are linking several small towns in Sarawak.

The project was awarded by the Ministry to the company for a tenure starting from 2010 until 2016.

“Our informant said many complaints had been lodged by locals against the poor condition of these rural roads because they were not built according to specifications. These rural roads located at Miri, Kapit, Ba’Kelalan, Limbang and Belaga were damaged after few months of building,” said MACC in their statement.

Based on technical research, the works done were not in accordance with the Public Works Department’s (PWD) standard.

These affected roads were each only tar-sealed two inches thick from the soil surface and were also done without gravel and sand as per contract specifications, which could be easily damaged by timber lorries and when in a poor state, could not be used by smaller vehicles to access villages in the rural areas, MACC alleged.

MACC, quoting the informant, said that the state government had instructed the state PWD to take over the management of the road repair works but this would double the cost.

However, one of the four contractors appointed by the state PWD to take over the project was a company belonging to the two suspects, MACC claimed.

The right thing to do was to blacklist the suspects’ companies, it insisted.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya who confirmed the case said the commission had probed the case in collaboration with the Defence Ministry after its internal audit division pointed out the defects in the project.

On Wednesday evening, the MACC also arrested a lawyer in its investigation into the falsified claims for the rural road project but the 44-year-old lawyer was released unconditionally by Magistrate Zubaidah Sharkawi as MACC could not satisfy the court that it had sufficient evidence to link him to the case when applying for a seven-day remand order against him.