KOTA KINABALU: Graft busters will be watching the RM320.25mil funds allocated by Putrajaya to the Sabah government to alleviate the state’s critical water issue like a hawk, says Tan Sri Azam Baki (pic).
“This water issue in Sabah is close to our hearts,” said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner.
With the help of the state government, the MACC, he said, would closely monitor the projects to be implemented and how the funds are spent.
“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 after closing the MACC Chief Commissioner Cup anti-bribery debate competition for institutions of higher learning at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) here.
On the appointment of Suhaimi Asbullah as Sabah Water Department director, he said it was the prerogative of the state government to appoint who they thought was fit for the post.
The state, he added, would have carried out a thorough vetting process before appointing someone.
“He (Suhaimi) could have been under investigation before but after the state’s vetting process he was found cleared of corruption or issues,” he said
He added that the commission could only give its views during the vetting process and that it was not binding for anyone or any organisation to follow them.
Last month, Suhaimi, 58, had testified as the 36th prosecution witness in the ongoing corruption trial of ex-Sabah Water Department director Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, 59, his wife Fauziah Piut, 57, and former deputy director Lim Lam Beng, 66.
The three accused were jointly slapped with 37 charges of money laundering which involved bank savings and cash amounting to RM61.57mil.
Praising the Sabah government over its will and determination to improve integrity and weed out corruption, Azam said not only had the state given its full cooperation to MACC, it had also spent generously on programmes to uplift integrity among its officers.
On the state Water Department corruption scandal, Azam said it would make a submission in court for the forfeiture of more than RM53mil seized in the case to be returned to the state government.
So far, he said, MACC had return some RM40mil that were seized during the 2016 investigation.