Crackdown on graft to start with election process, state agencies

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad vowed that an investigation would be carried out into evidence of some manipulation in the general election.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad vowed that an investigation would be carried out into evidence of some manipulation in the general election. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will crack down on corruption, starting with the election process and government agencies.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that there was evidence of some manipulation in Wednesday's general election, and vowed that a proper investigation would be carried out.

Referring to the ongoing tussle in Sabah's state assembly between parties allied to Barisan Nasional (BN) and those allied to PH as an example, he said: "Initially, Warisan won about 35 seats (a majority in the 60-seat assembly), but the Election Commission (EC) kept on counting and recounting so as to reduce Warisan to 29 seats." He added that there were attempts to bribe politicians to switch parties.

"We will properly investigate all these things because we want to follow the rule of law," he said. He noted that if there was evidence of corruption, the election results in those seats should be invalidated.

The new government will also look into alleged bias at graft-buster Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and reversing the changes made when the EC redrew electoral boundaries just ahead of the election.

"This election was not clean at all. People were being bought. Constituency boundaries were being changed. It is really to favour the government," he said.

He said EC chief Mohd Hashim Abdullah would be investigated to see if he was involved in corrupt practices.

He also took aim at Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali, who he claimed had "hidden evidence of wrongdoing" and "undermined his own credibility".

In response, Tan Sri Apandi told online news site Malaysiakini: "My conscience is clear."

He added: "What is of utmost importance is that the rule of law shall prevail and whatever action to be taken or done by anyone must be in accordance to the law."

In 2016, the AG cleared then Prime Minister Najib Razak of any wrongdoing after international investigations said RM2.6 billion (S$880 million) found in his personal accounts had originated from debt-laden state fund 1MDB.

Bloomberg news agency said 1MDB came under selling pressure in the bond market this week after PH's win raised questions about the firm's future. In 2015, 1MDB had announced plans to break up assets and wind down operations, but Dr Mahathir's win is fuelling speculation its closure could be more certain.

Hazlin Hassan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'Crackdown on graft to start with election process, state agencies'. Print Edition | Subscribe