$185b scandal: Serious procedural breaches during Muhyiddin administration, says PM Anwar

Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim (left) had previously consistently challenged PN leaders, especially Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to declare their assets. PHOTOS: AFP, KUA CHEE SIONG

KUALA LUMPUR -Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Monday said the Ministry of Finance has flagged “serious procedural breaches” in the spending of RM600 billion (S$185.29 billion) on several projects during Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s term as premier, adding that the mark-ups were “too high” and handed over to “specific parties”.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman, who is also Finance Minister, said the excessive procurements have resulted in “those parties spending extravagantly”.

Taking a veiled jab at those who criticised kleptocracy but were not “clean” themselves, Datuk Seri Anwar told reporters:

“It is interesting that those who have been using ‘kleptocracy’ as criticism are themselves very much compromised. (There are many) big dealings benefiting their sons or children or in-laws.”

“I must remind them, if you really want to get to the bottom of it (corruption), you must be prepared to be truly transparent and be investigated,” he added.

Mr Anwar said he would leave the matter to the Cabinet to decide, adding that there was no discussion on the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe the issue.

Denying the allegation, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said he has never pocketed or misused any funds meant to help the people. Even if he did, he said investigations would have started a long time ago.

“Such a large sum of funds would definitely not have gone unnoticed by the National Audit Department (JAN) which audits government spending annually, of which the report is then presented by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Parliament,” he said in a Facebook post.

“It’s very unlikely that both JAN and PAC somehow overlooked such a large amount. Bank Negara would also definitely have been alerted if my bank account were to suddenly receive such a large sum of money as some have claimed,” he said, referring to the central bank.

Mr Muhyiddin added that the government should stop pointing the finger at others and start looking into solving people’s problems.

“You are the government, so act like a government,” said the chairman of Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Previously, Mr Anwar had consistently challenged PN leaders, especially Mr Muhyiddin, to declare their assets as he has, in a bid to foster transparency and fight corruption.

But this was met with resistance, with PN ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang calling it “stupid”.

On Nov 25, PN officially decided to be an opposition bloc and play the role of “check and balance” on the new administration.

Mr Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin, both 75, had earlier been in a deadlock and unable to gather the 112 MPs needed for a simple majority in the legislature.

On Monday, Mr Anwar also implied that part of the election funds used by PN came from gaming companies involved in special draws.

“(I have asked for) checks on that. Whether you call yourself a Malay party or Islamic party, notwithstanding, the (election) funds came from gaming companies,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Anwar had previously condemned PN for increasing the frequency of special draws from eight per year to 22, a decision made in late 2020 during the Muhyiddin administration.

As Finance Minister, Mr Anwar said he decided that the number of special draws would be back to eight per year starting from January 2023.

“We have taken such a measure as we have no intention of collecting funds from ‘haram’ (forbidden) sources,” he said.

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