KOTA KINABALU: Graft busters will be watching like a “hawk” the RM320.25mil funds allocated by Putrajaya to the Sabah government to alleviate the state’s critical water issue, says Tan Sri Azam Baki.
“This water issue in Sabah is close to our hearts,” said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner on Thursday (June 8).
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He added the MACC will closely monitor the projects to be implemented and how the funds are spent with the help of the state government.
“I have instructed the Sabah MACC to work with the state government on this.
“When the funds are eventually channelled to the state, we hope the money will be spent wisely and properly according to the process of law.
“This is because there have been several cases pertaining to the water issue which the MACC had investigated before and brought to court,” Azam said.
He was speaking to reporters after closing the MACC Chief Commissioner Cup anti-bribery debate competition for institutions of higher learning at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) here.
Azam, however, had high praise for the Sabah government over its will and determination to improve integrity among its departments as well as to weed out corruption.
Not only had the state given its full cooperation to MACC, he said, but that it had also spent generously to uplift integrity among its officers.
“There have been many programmes implemented besides the cases which the state government had requested us to probe,” he said.
For example, he noted, was last month’s case in Tawau where six people including a Datuk were arrested for allegedly cheating the Sabah government of RM1.25mil worth of royalty from their gold mining operations.
“This was the result of Sabah’s cooperation. I believe the government wants the state to be peaceful and free from corruption as well as minimising leakages so that Sabah will be more prosperous.
“So, Sabah is giving us full cooperation, there is not much issue on collaboration.
“Even the Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor) gave his assurance,” Azam said, adding that Sabah was among the few states MACC had agreed for its officers to be seconded to.
“This is because Sabah had shown an interest and will to fight graft,” he added.
On the return of money confiscated to Sabah in the state Water Department corruption scandal, Azam said they will make a submission in court for the forfeiture of more than RM53mil seized in the case to be returned to the state government.
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So far, he said, the MACC had managed to return some RM40mil that were seized during the 2016 investigation.
“The case is still on trial now. But we will make a submission towards the end of the trial for the money to be returned,” he said.
Of the 12 people arrested for allegedly falsifying birth certificates to register adopted children as biological children in Kuala Lumpur, he said two of the suspects have been released.
“I consider such fraud cases very serious which undermine our sovereignty.
“We must get to the bottom of this and bring those responsible to face justice,” Azam said, adding the syndicate mostly operated in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.
He said among those arrested were four medical doctors and two government officers.