BANK RAKYAT CHAIRMAN NABBED

Tan Sri General (Rtd) Abdul Aziz Zainal was arrested by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over a RM15 million deal

for non-existent book on national leader. A sum of RM1 million was allegedly deposited in his account by a firm involved in the project. The commission’s investigation director Datuk Azam Baki said Abdul Aziz had been questioned over alleged abuse of power and bribery.

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BREATHLESS AGAIN

Visibility fell to as low as 1.5km yesterday as the haze blanketed the Klang Valley, causing air quality to deteriorate.

—Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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Form Three
student
falls to death
at school

PETALING JAYA — A Form Three student waiting for his turn to take the PT3 oral examination fell to his death from the third floor of SMK Presint 9(2) in Putrajaya yesterday.

Police identified the student as Azim Hakimi Abu Shuja, 15.

The incident took place at 9.40am and shocked students who heard a loud thud along the corridor. Investigations revealed that Azim had jumped over the 1.2m-high railing on the third floor to a ledge to retrieve a friend’s bag which had been thrown there.

Azmi lost his balance and fell to the ground floor. He died on the spot and his body was taken to Putrajaya Hospital for post-mortem.

Putrajaya police chief ACP Rosly Hassan said the case has been classified as sudden death.

“There is no element of foul play,” he said.

Rosly said six students, who were present when the incident took place, were interviewed to facilitate investigations.

“There were no teachers in his classroom as the students were waiting for their turn to take the oral test,” he said.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid visited the family at the hospital and extended his condolences. He later inspected the school and spoke with teachers.

“The safety measures for schools may be the most important thing to look at,” he said.

“I am not blaming the school but the design of the building itself is not safe for the students.”

Mahdzir said the school should implement basic safety measures to prevent such incidents from happening.

“I urge the authorities to look into schools’ safety measures,” he said.

Azim’s mother, Zalina Kamis, 53, said her son had been unusually quiet of late.

It was learnt that Azim was with his friends preparing for the oral test on Sunday night.

Azim’s eldest brother, Muhammad Aliff, 28, said the family was alerted by the school at 10.15am.

“We rushed to the school only to learn that Azim had died,” he said.

Aliff said his brother was obedient and ambitious, and often helped members of
the family.

MACC on right track, says advisory panel

PETALING JAYA — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can improve its public perception if it keeps up the momentum in pursuing those involved in corruption, said members of its advisory panel.

In the past month, MACC appears to have tightened its grip against corruption after Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad was appointed its chief on July 29.

Tan Sri Michael Yeoh said major graft cases would help MACC in changing public perception but they must take more measures to keep up the impetus.

“The recent crackdown will definitely help MACC improve its public perception and enhance its image but more needs to be done to further improve its standing,” he said.

“It is important that they keep up their momentum on catching those with their hands in the cookie jar.’’

Former Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said MACC needed to ensure a bridge of trust was established between the commission and members of the public.

“When they conduct themselves in a manner of high integrity and honesty then people are more likely to trust them and would be less reluctant to come forward and engage with the commission,” he said.

“The commission would then receive more intelligence and evidence that is crucial for their efforts against corruption.’’

Musa said the action by MACC recently would be a strong reminder to ranking officials to stay away from corruption.

“The action sends a strong message against those who intend to defraud others or those who are involved in graft.

“It would also educate people on the consequences of their actions and would prevent further cases of corruption,’’ he said.

One more picked up for embezzling Petronas

PETALING JAYA — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday arrested another sub-contractor for the alleged misappropriation of RM7 million from oil giant, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas).

The 27-year-old was detained at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya at 4.40pm after they summoned him to the office for questioning as investigations revealed he was recruited by one of the main contractors, who was among eight arrested earlier in the case.

MACC investigation director Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrest but declined to comment further.

The suspect is expected to be produced in court today for a remand application.

The eight arrested on Friday were a Petronas manager and a project manager, four main contractors and two sub-contractors.

The suspects, aged between 35 and 60, were detained in Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur.

The suspects had collaborated with contractors to submit falsified invoices which forced Petronas to fork out an additional RM7million for “extra work” done on the RM76million Lekas III pipeline project in Malacca from 2011 to 2013.

However, there was no additional work done and the suspects instead allegedly transacted the money into their accounts for personal gain.

MACC yesterday also seized a Mercedes Benz, a Toyota Rush, several expensive bottles of liquor and tea worth RM300,000 in Malacca from one of the contractors arrested on Friday.

MACC had earlier frozen RM5.35 million in 17 bank accounts belonging to the two Petronas employees and 13 others connected to the project.

Four cars — a Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Toyota Camry and Toyota Hilux — as well as two high-performance motorcycles were also seized.

A terrace house worth about RM1.5million in Bandar Utama here was also sealed for investigations.

Meanwhile, MACC has placed two more contractors under their radar for allegedly receiving a portion of the money and are expected to make arrests soon.

“MACC is looking at freezing more bank accounts and making more arrests soon after we are done probing the current suspects who’s remands end tomorrow (today),” a source close to the investigations told Malay Mail.

The source said initial investigations revealed there were no other Petronas employees involved besides the two project managers.

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Bank chairman held over RM1m transfer

KUALA LUMPUR — Bank Rakyat chairman Tan Sri General (Rtd) Abdul Aziz Zainal has been arrested by graft busters to facilitate investigations into the transfer of RM1 million to him in connection with a non-existent book deal.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation director Datuk Azam Baki told Malay Mail that Abdul Aziz, 65, was picked up at 1.15pm yesterday at MACC’s headquarters in Putrajaya after he was called there and questioned over alleged abuse of power and bribery.

MACC had discovered the transfer of RM1 million into Abdul Aziz’s bank account from a legal firm involved in the publication of the book about a national leader.

“MACC has so far frozen the said sum in the chairman’s account,” said Azam, adding that Abdul Aziz would be brought to court today for a remand application.

Last Thursday, the bank’s president Datuk Mustafha Abd Razak, 48, was picked up after investigators found that RM15 million was allegedly given to a publishing company when the project was launched earlier this year.

The publishing company implicated in the scandal has been identified as Zilerie Global Sdn Bhd.
MACC have arrested its managing director, Muhammad Ghazali Abdul Majid, 40, and directors, Wan Asri Wan Hassan, 44, and Mohd Azizi Mahusin, 45.

Muhammad Ghazali is currently under remand till Friday, while the remand for Mustafha and the two directors will expire today.

Their arrests follow a big crackdown by MACC after Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad took over as its new chief end of last month.

On Aug 15, three government officers, including a Datuk and a Datuk Seri, were also arrested by MACC for alleged corruption, misuse of power and money laundering.

The Datuk Seri was attached to City Hall while the Datuk was attached to the Malacca Public Works Department. The other senior officer was with Tenaga Nasional in Kelantan.

MACC had also frozen accounts belonging to the three suspects amounting to more than RM13 million, comprising savings accounts and unit trust worth between RM1 million and RM6 million each.

The Datuk Seri is also believed to own 31 luxury condominium units worth more than RM15.5 million.

They are all on bail.

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Two deny falsifying GST claims

IPOH — Two businessmen claimed trial at the Sessions Court here yesterday to multiple counts of submitting false Goods and Services Tax (GST) statements for refunds amounting to more than RM900,000.

They are believed to be the first to be charged for the offence under Section 89(1)(b)of the Goods and Services Tax Act.

Businessman Ahmad Zawawi Abdul Rahim, 49, and fish breeder Mok Siew Khuen, 49, were slapped with seven and five charges respectively.

Ahmad Zawawi is accused of making false entries in his GST statements related to RM588,808 of input taxes with an intent to acquire credit for input tax towards output tax between Sept 2, 2015 and May 7 this year.

Mok is accused of making false entries in his GST statements for RM356,314.50 with the same intent between Jan 8 and May 6 this year.

If found guilty, they could face a fine between 10 and 20 times the amount of tax or a jail term not exceeding five years or both.

Charged separately, both defendants indicated that they understood the charges when they were read by the court interpreter.

N.P. Ramachandran represented Moh while Awatif Ahmad Bashir acted on behalf of Ahmad Zawawi.

The prosecution was represented by deputy public prosecutors Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who is also the Customs Department legal divisions director, and Farah Ezlin Yusop Khan.

Initially, Raja Rozela offered a bail amounting to 10 times the amount of input taxes involved for each separate charge.

Given that the defendants could face a hefty fine upon conviction, Raja Rozela said the bail needed to be enough to dissuade them from attempting to escape.

Ramachandran challenged this, saying that his client had cooperated fully with the authorities, requesting instead for a combined bail of RM10,000 for all charges.

Awatif requested a RM5,000 bail to be issued for his client’s charges, telling the court that her client had five school-going children and an ailing mother to take care of.

After hearing both sides, Sessions Court judge Ikmal Hishan Mohd Tajuddin set the bail at RM700,000 for Ahmad Zawawi and RM500,000 for Mok, before setting Sept 30 for mention.

Ramachandran and Awatif said they would be appealing the bail amount at the Ipoh High Court.

Tearful farewell for crane incident victim

GEORGE TOWN — It was a sorrowful atmosphere at the funeral of Joice Chin Khoon Sing, who was crushed to death when a crane hook fell on her car at Jalan Raja Chulan in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, at the Gat Lebuh Noordin flats here yesterday morning.

A number of friends and relatives turned up to pay their last respects before the hearse left for the Batu Gantung crematorium at 10.30am.

Khoon Sing’s mother, Yeoh Ang Hooi, 58, wept uncontrollably as the casket was rolled into the incinerator while elder brother Khoon Ying, 26, also could not hold back his tears. Father Chee Weng, 58, and younger brother, Khoon Feng, 11, looked downcast.

A cousin of the deceased, Tan Chia Chia, 26, was also seen crying.

“Chia Chia is the closest, apart from the family members, to Joice. They grew up together since young,” said Khoon Ying. “She cannot take it that she had lost Joice, neither do we.”.

Meanwhile, Khoon Ying said his family is still undecided whether to take any legal action against the party responsible for his sister’s death.

Joice, who worked at a hardware company in Puchong, Kuala Lumpur, was said to be heading to her family home to have dinner together.

She even managed to send a voice note through Whatsapp asking the family members to wait for her for the dinner before the 500kg crane hook fell and crushed her in the Perodua Kelisa she was driving.

“We will have a meeting tonight to decide whether to proceed with legal action.

“We want to take a collective stand before deciding what to do,” he said.

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Australian
 jockey
 fined for
impersonation

PETALING JAYA — Australian jockey Noel Callow nabbed at klia2 recently for attempting to leave the country using a passport other than his has been charged for impersonation under the Passport Act.

“He paid a RM1,800 fine after pleading guilty to an offence of impersonation under Section 12(1)(B) of the Act,” his solicitor Varghese Onn told Malay Mail.

The charge carries a maximuim fine of RM10,000 or jail term, or both.

“As Callow was a first-time offender and since there were extenuating circumstances, he was let off with a fine,” Onn added.

“After the paperwork is formalised, he would be allowed to return to Melbourne.

“He has been held at the Immigration detention depot since the matter unfolded and could return by the end of the week.”

As for the passport used, it was found to have been issued to Australian Shane Edwards who is a trainer known to many horse racing enthusiasts here.

However, attempts to draw a response from the trainer proved futile.

Soon after Malay Mail reported the Aug 18 incident, media portals Down Under began uploading news of the incident.

Racing Victoria’s deputy chief steward Rob Montgomery was quoted over the Herald Sun saying he received a call from the Malaysian Racing Association chief steward Michael Castillo on Monday morning informing him of the incident.

Montgomery said Castillo told him that Callow was still detained by Immigration officials and would have to face the courts where it was likely he would be fined before he could get back to Australia.

The Herald Sun also reported that Callow now faces an uncertain riding future as he would be expected to appear before Racing Victoria stewards before being allowed to mount again.

The globetrotting jockey has been riding in the region for the past 10 years, and scored numerous winners for horse owners here and Singapore.

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Mersing dam almost dried up

MERSING — The Congok Dam, which supplies water to the Tenglu treatment plant for the district here, has almost completely dried up.

Checks at the dam, which is managed by Syarikat Air Johor Holding Sdn Bhd (SAJ), revealed the water level had dropped to 2.5m, well below the dam’s critical level of 3.5m.

SAJ production and distribution general manager Elias Ismail said the erratic weather had been the main cause of the dam drying up.

“The low rainfall and prolonged drought in the state in the past few years have led to the dam levels hitting rock bottom,’’ he said.

According to Elias, despite its water levels being beyond the critical level, the dam is still operational. He said water at the dam could last only for a few more days.

“Despite the worsening situation, the Tenglu Water Treatment Plant will still operate and we have water reserved for people in the district,” he said.

“We have started water rationing in the district since March.’’

The plant also supplies some treated water to more than 40,000 consumers in Mersing.

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