In most companies, outstanding employees are rewarded with a performance bonus, an increase in pay, promotion or the gold Rolex watch. Those who steal, or who bully their co-workers, or sexually abuse them are immediately sacked.
In 21st century Malaysia, the government has discovered novel ways of rewarding failure.
The MACC officer who allegedly contributed to the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock was rewarded with a promotion.
Politicians who steal billions of ringgit from Malaysian taxpayers, like the convicted felon Najib Abdul Razak are given police outriders and protection.
For his failure, he was rewarded with a house and property worth RM100 million.
Worse still, if the government has something to hide, either because it is involved in some shady activity or because it wants to protect certain people, the Official Secrets Act (OSA) comes into play.
The latest civil servant to be rewarded for failure is former “spy” chief Hasanah Abdul Hamid, for her role in the alleged theft of government funds.
She was the former director-general of the now defunct Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), whose duties, it was alleged, was to gather information on Najib’s critics, both overseas and in Malaysia.
On 25 October, 2018, Hasanah claimed trial for one count of CBT amounting to US$12.1 million (RM50.4 million) when she was serving as then director-general of the Prime Minister’s Department Research Division.
The offence was committed at the office of the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya between 30 April and 9 May 2018.
In April last year, she was a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA), meaning she could still be charged for the same offence in future.
However, on 9 August 2022, Hasanah was given a full acquittal.
This is how the Malaysian authorities reward failure. The spy-thief is not the first nor the last high-profile case to be acquitted of wrongdoing.
So, this is how the Malaysian authorities reward failure. The spy-thief was exonerated of her crime. She is not the first nor the last high-profile case to be acquitted of wrongdoing in recent years.
Judge Roz Mawar Rozain said it was “not fair” to have the DNAA looming over Hasanah for over a year, because justice was “not served that way”.
This is not punishment. A crime was committed, but no one has been held accountable.
Is this how Malaysians want those who steal from the nation to be treated? Is this a good example for our children and our youth? What is the point of Rukun Negara and having civic classes at school?
In the Hasanah household, all family members will breathe a sigh of relief. No such joy will be felt in the households of Malaysians from the lower income bracket, whose parents stole cans of sardines or baby formula to feed their children and were immediately prosecuted and jailed.
Last year, after Hasanah was granted the DNAA, she went to the MACC to reclaim cash that had been seized by the commission in 2018. Instead, she found RM25 million missing, and the rest had been replaced with fake notes.
These allegations had come to light in an article published by a blog called Edisi Siasat, which also alleged that the police were afraid to act on Hasanah’s report.
Why were the police fearful of acting on her report? This is unacceptable and Malaysians should not stand for this.
Public money was stolen and no one has been held responsible. The public deserve answers.
Even stranger was that the police denied that the former spy thief had lodged a police report about the missing money. Why?
However, on the same day the discovery had been made, the MACC issued a statement claiming that three of its officers had been detained over the missing cash.
Later that month, the MACC claimed to have concluded its investigation into the missing RM25 million and handed the investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further action.
At the time of her arrest, Hasanah was the director-general of the now defunct Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO).
The MEIO was a very well kept secret and only a handful of Malaysians were aware of its existence.
It is attached to the Prime Minister’s Department and Hasanah reported directly to the disgraced, convicted felon Najib Abdul Razak.
It was alleged that the MEIO came into existence during Najib’s tenure. Basically, its function was to spy on others, in particular to snoop on Najib’s critics like activists, students and businessmen based both in Malaysia and overseas.
First, Hasanah was granted the DNAA. Then a year later, she was given a full acquittal.
Where are the answers for the Malaysian public? This is public money that was stolen. It is also an abuse of power.
More importantly, why was Hasanah, the spy-chief, allowed to get away scot-free? What were the documents given to her by Najib two days before GE14 election? What was the purpose of the RM50 million? When will she return this money?
In acquitting Hasanah, the judge Roz was wrong. Did she ever stop to think that it is “not fair” to have taxpayers money stolen?
So, when will the rakyat get justice?
- Malaysiakini: High Court acquits ex-spy chief in RM50m CBT case
- New Straits Times: Hasanah to lodge police report over alleged letter to CIA
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)