Commentary Finance Politics

Crossed lines, Tyson’s return and worsening amnesia


Written by Aziz Hassan

Recollections & Reflections – A weekly column

IT didn’t quite compute, the two statements relating to the leak of information on police investigations into the Datuk Keramat tahfiz fire last Thursday that killed 23 people, mostly young boys.

When something like this happens, that’s when people usually start to find faults and speculate that there is a cover-up.

While speaking in Perlis on Sunday morning, Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi made it clear that the leak came from an agency director, not the police.

But some hours later Kuala Lumpur CID chief SAC Rusdi Md. Isa stated categorically that 13 policemen had their statements taken in relation to investigations into the leak.

Who are we to believe then?

If you thought the last chapter on this had thus been written, you are dead wrong.

Today, September 18, newly appointed Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamd Fuzi Harun announced that a special task force would be formed on this, adding that while there had been clear instructions to police personnel against such a disclosure, some obviously chose not to listen.

Whatever the truth, it’s high time officials get their act right and ensure that the information they provide to their high-ups does not cross lines and in the process, embarrass their bosses and by extension, does not confuse people. It definitely is an embarrassment for the government as a whole.

Tyson hasn’t retired

SINCE he became more well known to the public on holding office as Selangor Mentri Besar in 1986, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib was usually referred to as Mike Tyson.

While Tyson the heavyweight boxer retired some years ago, “Tyson” the politician has remained in the picture, albeit occasionally, since resigning as MB in 1997 following a case about money in Australia for which he was later acquitted by a court there.

In Umno he went up as far as the post of vice-president and in the government, was made a federal minister for just over a year from 2008.

Muhammad was to make a detour in April 2013 to find his way into the Islamist party PAS. He didn’t stay there long and joined PKR in September 2015.

Yesterday Muhammad became one of a small number of politicians, mainly mavericks, who have made the rounds and decided to return to Umno, with some saying that he would be able to help Umno and the Barisan Nasional regain Selangor from the opposition.

Because someone alerted the press a day earlier that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was due to make a major announcement, Kuala Lumpur was abuzz with anticipation.

This though turned into a whimper, for Muhammad isn’t such a huge catch, despite his previous positions in the party. His last political office of any relevance ended in 1997 and there have been four general elections since.

As is often the case in Malaysia, once you no longer hold office that can offer patronage, your influence and hence, the support for you, diminishes.

But apparently there was going to be quite an exodus from the opposition to Umno together with Tyson the politician’s return. If there was it didn’t happen and now we will never know for sure.

Amnesia seems an ill that affects more and more Malaysians

SINCE the Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the huge forex losses by Bank Negara started a few weeks ago, we have been reading into more and more cases of amnesia by most of the witnesses.

Something that the whole country talked about in the mid-1990s suddenly turned into something that senior politicians never heard of. Recollections of briefings to them turned into something hazy now. Lines of reporting were apparently unclear and uncertainties abound.

This on something that involved billions of ringgit of taxpayers money that was gambled away without any checks and balances and with no one absolutely certain who had the last say. One person who could tell us more and was at the top of the pile then unfortunately died some years ago, leaving only the living to talk – and they are talking in riddles.

The irony of it all is that the institution which even then demanded strict controls of the finances and lines of reporting plus disclosure by others itself failed to adhere to all this.

Till now it looks like we will never get all the answers that we seek to truly close this unfortunate chapter in Malaysian banking history. This usually happens when there is little documentation of what we do as trustees of the people.




About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.