KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (pic) is saddened that top officers in the state Water Department are being investigated for alleged bribery and money laundering.
Pairin, who heads the Infrastructure Development Ministry that oversees the state Water Department, said he hoped that the two officers would be able to explain themselves to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigators.
He added that they have yet to be officially briefed on the actions by MACC.
“It is sad to read in the newspapers and to know that two of my top officers have been taken in for questioning by the MACC,’’ he said in a statement here on Friday.
He said that he had been advised by his officers (his ministry’s permanent secretary as well the state secretary) to wait for an official report for any further developments.
“Certain (administrative) procedures may have to be activated,’’ he said in apparent reference to civil service regulations that civil servants would be suspended if they were charged in court pending the outcome of their trial.
"In the meantime, we can be comforted by the law which states that a person is presumed innocent until otherwise,’’ he added.
It was reported that 38 companies owned by family members and proxies of Sabah Water Department director Ag Tahir Ag Talib and his deputy Teoh Chee Kong were given contracts worth millions for RM3.3bil worth of federal projects since 2010.
MACC sources said that 17 of the companies were held by siblings and family members of Ag Tahir and another 21 companies were owned by Teoh’s relatives.
The sources said the 54-year-old director and his 52-year-old deputy will be made to declare all their assets under Section 36 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 as the MACC wants comprehensive details of their wealth.
They were arrested from their offices on Tuesday by MACC investigators who also uncovered more then RM114mil. The amount also included RM53mil in cash found in their homes and offices here.
Both have been remanded for a week since Wednesday.
A special MACC team of investigators involving 70 personnel has been working on the case since last year.
MACC officers have also arrested a contractor with the title of Datuk and his company accountant in one of the country’s biggest corruption investigations.
More arrests are expected as they also try to trace money banked into a neighbouring country.