It makes one question whether the rule of law is only applied to ordinary citizens
pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
IT IS a good time to be in the news field in Malaysia these days. Almost every day, our politicians would provide us with stories to write about — good or bad.
Try and catch one Dewan Rakyat sitting and one could be entertained with the antics of our very own lawmakers.
It is rather unfortunate that while some of the debates could actually pave the way for the country’s betterment, the process is always drowned by heckling, name-calling and all the theatrics in between.
Early this week, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz created quite a buzz in his “revelation” that 101 projects worth more than RM6 billion have been awarded via direct negotiations — something that the previous Pakatan Harapan coalition had promised not to do when they were in power.
This revelation appeared like a direct attack against the previous administration for reneging its promise(s).
Still, it is also worth noting that former Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had openly admitted in September last year that such a practice would only be limited to acquisitions in essential or special cases.
“They must state the reason why they want to have a direct negotiation and they have to get the permission of the Finance Ministry. Other cases, of course, are through open tender and limited tender,” Dr Mahathir said then.
Did Tengku Zafrul err in his revelation? Only he has the answer.
However, right until yesterday, the finance minister had failed to give the details of the said 101 projects.
Dr Mahathir welcomed him to do so, for the sake of transparency. Tengku Zafrul’s predecessor, Lim Guan Eng, has also openly challenged the former to list out the details of those awarded projects.
The ball is in Tengku Zafrul’s court now. Should he do it?
Well, of course, he should, because it is a matter of national interest. There have been calls for Lim to be probed by the anti-graft body on the matter too.
In fact, one Umno leader has already called for the cancellation of the awarded projects.
Never mind the fact that Barisan Nasional, according to Lim, has awarded RM139.3 billion worth of projects via direct negotiations, what matters is we do not want to witness another solar panel project case in this country.
Full disclosure is vital. Otherwise, it will be just another mudslinging rhetoric.
The public should be able to decide on what is really happening instead of being dragged into yet another round of politicking. To go through this while the nation is still recovering from Covid-19 pandemic is tiring.
Speaking of the pandemic, the authorities should be able to shed some light into the case involving Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali on his breaching of the home quarantine order.
After more than a week, PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin broke his silence, stressing that no one is above the law and that a thorough probe will be conducted.
However, whether the PM likes it or not, Mohd Khairuddin has unfortunately dented the credibility of his administration.
Although the minister apologised, he failed to appease the angered crowd. As a Cabinet member, Mohd Khairuddin should have known better than the common people on why such standard operating procedures were needed.
Yet, knowingly, he defied the law, despite his colleague Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s daily reminder for the people to adhere to it.
To make the matters worse, Mohd Khairuddin initially failed to provide any explanation nor apology about his trip to Turkey.
His earlier statement only showed his lack of responsibility, and he was also deemed as passing the buck to the Health Ministry (MoH).
Over the weekend, many were left outraged and baffled by MoH’s response to Mohd Khairuddin’s unsettling situation.
The RM1,000 “backdated” compound seems puny compared to harsher punishments that had been imposed against similar offenders.
It makes one question whether the rule of law is only applied to ordinary citizens.
It is also worth noting that should Mohd Khairuddin receive higher punishment, he is at risk of losing the MP status, leaving the Perikatan Nasional government with a single majority in Dewan Rakyat.
As of yesterday, an online petition calling for Mohd Khairuddin’s resignation has garnered almost 50,000 signatures.
To the sceptics, it is wishful thinking to expect Mohd Khairuddin’s resignation. For those who signed the petition, it is their only way of expressing displeasure over the whole issue.
There seems to be more questions than answers in Mohd Khairuddin’s explanations too. On what basis was he allowed to leave the country when our borders are generally shut?
What was so pressing that it required an exemption? And, is the claim of RM82 billion investments substantiated?
Last but not least, if Seputeh MP Teresa Kok did not raise this issue in the Parliament, would this case just be swept under the carpet?
Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.