KOTA KINABALU • Sabah's Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony yesterday claimed trial to charges of money laundering, amid speculation that the state government is under threat from rival factions.
Peter, widely seen as a loyalist of Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, pleaded not guilty to five charges of money laundering involving RM8.75 million (S$2.86 million).
Judge Abu Bakar Manat set bail at RM500,000, with two local sureties, and ordered Peter to report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office once every two months.
Peter is to surrender his passport to the court, but would be allowed to apply to use it, if needed. The case is next set for mention on Aug 4.
The case comes just two days after the state's former chief minister Musa Aman, a rival of Datuk Seri Shafie, was acquitted of 46 charges of graft and money laundering.
Mr Shafie described the timing of the charges against Peter as suspicious, but said he would allow the law to run its course.
Peter and Mr Shafie are members of Parti Warisan Sabah, which currently controls 47 of the 65 seats in the state legislature. Warisan also has nine lawmakers in the federal Parliament.
Before leaving then ruling party Umno to form Warisan ahead of the May 2018 general election, Mr Shafie was Rural Development Minister in the Barisan Nasional federal government led by Najib Razak.
Both Peter and Mr Shafie had been arrested in 2017 in connection with investigations into the misappropriation of billions of ringgit in federal funds meant for rural development projects.
The cases, which Mr Shafie had said were politically motivated, were dropped after Warisan ally Pakatan Harapan won the election in 2018.
Yesterday's case comes amid speculation that the federal Perikatan Nasional administration - mainly comprising Umno, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Islam SeMalaysia - was making moves to entice lawmakers to defect and oust the Warisan administration.
Number of money-laundering charges that Sabah minister Peter Anthony yesterday claimed trial to.
Mr Shafie said his party would not tolerate any effort by the opposition to create chaos within the state in a bid to take over its government, and warned his opponents not to create chaos at the expense of public order and peace.
"Don't turn the state upside down. You want to create chaos, you want to fight? I'll fight you guys," he said yesterday.
Expressing surprise at former chief minister Musa's acquittal, Mr Shafie said his state government still held the majority.
"What tools will they be using? We can't stop them as politicians. They have a lot of money.
"So, they can entice our people with money and posts but don't tell me that the MACC won't notice," he said.
Mr Shafie said he was aware of attempts to "buy" assemblymen and MPs, adding that many of his people were facing harassment, but he was confident that they would not buckle under pressure.
"We are solid together," he said.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK