By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — Despite being accused of corruption, long-serving Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman has been described as “doing a great job” and has “worked tirelessly” for the state, say his colleagues in the leader’s Barisan Nasional (BN) fortress.
They also said that Sabah Umno can receive political contributions although they did not link it to Musa (picture) who was cleared of allegations of graft and money-laundering of over S$16 million (RM40 million), which were allegedly smuggled from Hong Kong into the state, by whistleblower website Sarawak Report.
“I think the opposition should apologise for ruining CM’s reputation when he worked tirelessly for Sabah,” Sabah BN secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan told The Malaysian Insider.
“There is no truth to the allegations made by opposition towards CM. They’ve been having a fun time mocking CM, accusing him...
“This decision by the authorities is a testimony of his character,” the Kota Belud MP said.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had cleared Musa after finding the RM40 million was meant for Sabah Umno and not the chief minister’s personal use as alleged, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz told Parliament this past week.
Nazri also said the Attorney-General’s Chambers had decided to drop the matter after finding no element of corruption in the case.
Musa is both the Sabah Umno chief and Sabah BN chief. The state has been described as BN’s “fixed deposit” although a string of defections have rocked the ruling coalition.
Datuk Johnny Mositun, the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) information chief, shared Abdul Rahman’s view about Musa, saying: “We leave it to the people of Sabah because we know anybody who is doing a great job, people will criticise.”
Abdul Rahman also disputed allegations that the chief minister was involved in corruption, saying that the state budget “is bigger than Selangor’s and Penang’s combined” and Sabah’s cash reserves level is “unprecedented, the highest ever.”
Last week, Datuk V.K. Liew, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president, said that Sabah had RM4 billion in its coffers, more than those in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)-ruled states of Penang and Selangor.
When pointed out that the spotlight might now be trained on Sabah Umno, Abdul Rahman said: “You see, when you talk about contribution... are they saying it is wrong?”
“Let’s be fair. If you think Umno can’t receive money from people who believe in struggle of Umno... As far as I know, it’s not against the law. Anyone who believes in Umno can contribute,” the senior Umno backbencher said.
Last night, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak declined to disclose the source of the RM40 million political donation, saying: “We are not at liberty to disclose... the opposition also receives donations and they don’t disclose.”
“It is a political donation. All parties have a right to receive political donations. As long as it is through the right channels, it is not an offence,” Najib said.
Anti-graft watchdog Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) yesterday pressed for full disclosure of the source of the RM40 million “political contribution”, saying that “absolute transparency” is needed to “rule out the possibility of influence peddling in the political process.”
Abdul Rahman also said that “the most important thing” was that the chief minister has been cleared by the MACC.
“Now if you don’t believe MACC... well, look at Hong Kong; Hong Kong authorities are recognised by the opposition as being tough, transparent and fair in dealing with such allegations.
“Here you have the Hong Kong authorities themselves absolving CM of any wrongdoing,” he said.
Parliament was also told the Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) had investigated the case but “took no further action”.
Mositun also said: “Since the MACC already cleared him, let this thing be settled once and for all.”
“We hope it’ll not be politicised anymore because he’s already been cleared,” said the Inanam state assemblyman.
In April this year, whistleblower site Sarawak Report had revealed documents allegedly from the ICAC showing that a Sabah lawyer was holding some US$30 million (RM93 million) in a Swiss bank account for Musa.
The report also claimed that a paper trail showed that the millions in euros as well as US, Hong Kong and Singapore dollars had been channelled from several firms managed by Hong Kong-based timber trader Michael Chia to a number of British Virgin Island companies and subsequently to the lawyer’s Swiss account.
Musa has since denied any link with Chia, who was arrested and charged with money laundering after attempting to smuggle S$16 million back to Malaysia in 2008.
According to media reports, Chia had at the time allegedly told the Hong Kong authorities that the money belonged to Musa.
Musa had previously accused Sarawak Report of defaming him, claiming the graft allegations were likely part of a conspiracy by his detractors who wanted to topple BN in the east Malaysian state.
He had said he would offer full co-operation to the authorities if he was required to but stressed that in the meantime, his focus was on serving the state instead of “entertaining these frivolous allegations”.