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Monday, February 27, 2012

All eyes on Gani Patail: Will he order the arrest of Shahrizat's husband

Sulaiman Kamal | 10:55 PM | Best Blogger Tips

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Attention has swiveled over to Malaysia's notorious Attorney General, Gani Patail, with the Malaysian public watching closely to see if he will request for an arrest warrant for the husband of Women's minister Shahrizat Jalil, accused of criminal breach of trust in the RM250mil NFC debacle.

Gani is often accused of corruption and being under the thumb of the Umno-led federal government, and when Prime Minister Najib Razak said over the weekend it was up to the AG to decide on the next course of action, it sparked warning bells that his comment was a signal to Gani to not bow to pressure from the public, the opposition and Umno itself, to act swiftly on the long drawn-out case.

Najib was actually responding to news that the police had recommended CBT charges to be preferred against Salleh Ismail, the NFC chairman, although deputy inspector-general Khalid Abu Bakar had previous announced in November that investigations did not show any "elements" of breach of trust.

Indeed, the NFC fiasco is fraught with deep undercurrents as all major factions in the Umno party involved in one way or another in the deal. The project itself is aimed to develop a cattle breeding industry in Malaysia and was awarded to Shahrizat's husband and family to oversee in 2006. A RM250mil government soft loan was also granted as part of the project financing but opposition leaders led by PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli and women's chief Zuraida Kamaruddin have revealed that the Shahrizats used a large chunk of this loan on personal items including luxury condos, car, overseas holidays and so forth.

AG must act professionally

Calling on the Najib administration to stop delaying and to bring all guilty parties to book, PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub was among the latest Pakatan Rakyat leader to warn against using Gani as an excuse to block or delay action against Salleh.

"What's important is that the AG must act according to the facts of the case. I hope they will resolve the matter professionally," Salahuddin, who is also the Kubang Kerian MP, told a press conference on Monday.

Salahuddin was obviously concerned with drift of the PM's latest comment on the matter, which implies that there is unlikely to be any prosecution by his administration. The prime minister had said the AG holds absolute power under the Constitution to decide if a case has sufficient evidence to be accepted in court, failing which the latter could also return the matter to the police for further investigation.

“I am saying this on the principle that assumptions cannot be made on what is going to happen (next) because it is up to the A-G ... and only he has the right to make the decision in this matter. We cannot make the assumption that all investigations end with prosecution,” Najib told reporters on Sunday.

Najib and his camp have been blamed for starting the NFC debacle by blowing the whistle on its dubious wheeling-and-dealing for the purpose of discrediting Shahrizat and replacing her with Raja Nong Chik as the candidate for the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat in the next general election, widely expected to be held later this year.

However, Najib was unprepared for the way the scandal blew up and how it is now being blamed for weakening Umno's chances in the GE-13. It is believed that he has now struck a deal with Shahrizat to not prosecute her, provided she surrenders her Cabinet position in due course.

Prolonging the 'embarrassment' for Muhyiddin and Badawi

Umno watchers believe that he is now intentionally prolonging the NFC drama as rival factions led by former premier Abdullah Badawi and Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin are also involved in the case.

Badawi was prime minister and had wanted to give the project to the Shahrizats to manage. Najib's potential rival in the race for the Umno presidency, Muhyiddin Yasin, was the Agriculture minister who officially signed over the project to the Shahrizats. By playing up the NFC scandal, Najib hopes to discredit the Badawis as well as Muhyiddin.

"Najib will maximise the bad press for Muhyiddin, KJ and the Badawi faction, so don't expect any swift or decisive action from the Attorney General. Such a tactic is currently to Najib's advantage and he will use it to the max. To the public, he will of course sing a different tune and his stooges will go around creating all types of stories to try and dissociate themselves from the NFC scandal," an Umno watcher told Malaysia Chronicle.

"But I don't think it will fool many people in Umno. They know who has the most to gain from blowing the whistle on the Shahrizats in the first place and now by prolonging the situation and discrediting Muhyiddin and Badawi. The biggest loser is of course Umno, the party as a whole, because of the dirty politicking of its own president."

Info : News


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