Last week, a civil suit was filed at the High Court of Malaysia by a number of very disgruntled investors. They are alleging that Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd solicited their investments based on false invoices and fraudulent documents and have misappropriated funds of about $4 million.
When their support was solicited in 2008 and 2009, the investors considered that Malaysia was an emerging, secure and accountable business system and assumed that they would gain an honest return on their investment. Today however, after several years of fighting to get their funds returned, they have met with nothing but delays.
The whole affair raises serious questions whether investigation is being stalled by people in high places. This is certainly a matter which would merit investigation by the MACC and by any government concerned in its commitment to battle corruption.
The investors have had many meetings with Malaysian politicians and ministers in London and Malaysia -- including Prime Minister Najib a day after he announced Part 1 of his New Economic Model which included promoting inward investment.
British political leaders are taking up the issue on behalf of these British citizens and in spite of countless reassurances that Malaysian justice can be relied upon, there has still been no definitive action from the Malaysian government.
The original funds were invested in Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd whose chairman and director is the influential Dato Seri Abdul Azim Bin Mohd Zabidi, former treasurer of the main UNMO political ruling party. The other director of Doxport Technologies is Sivalingam Thechinamoorthy, who is allegedly one of the 'frontmen' for many of Dato Abdul Azim's deals, with Thechinamoorthy's wife, Gurmeet Kaur, playing a pivotal role as well.
This is by no means the first hint of corruption within Malaysia's political elite, despite Malaysia's high-profile anti-corruption crusade. Prime Minister Najib Razak's government professes to be taking a lead in weeding out graft but the perception is growing that corruption under the Najib administration is flourishing.
For example, the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International reported recently that Malaysia scored worst in the world in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) began its operation officially on January 1, 2009 and according to the official website of International Association of Anti Corruption Authorities, "had focused on investigating cases involving illegal mining and sand smuggling, illegal logging, corruption at the country's entry points as well as distribution of diesel subsidy." An impression is given of a corrupt government hounding the small offenders and ignoring the more important cases of pervasive graft.
Abuse continues in government procurement and scandals such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Project, not to mention the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) described by Transparency International as "a black mark on the country's history." Another example is the Bakun Dam in Sarawak which was included in Transparency International's 'Monuments of corruption' Global Corruption Report in 2005. The mandate to develop the project went to a timber contractor and a friend of Sarawak's governor. The construction of the dam was found to be faulty and the provincial government of Sarawak is still looking for customers to consume the power to be generated by the project.
However, rather than living up to its promises, the government continues to deal with corruption by shameless blame shifting and paper shuffling. The delay in fully investigating the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud case is yet another egregious example of justice delayed and therefore justice denied. This will not rest here however, as the British victims of the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud are moving their case to a higher level.
British investors have received the support of many of their Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, many of whom have sent letters:
• 9 have written to date, to the Malaysian Prime Minister -- no reply has ever been received
• 6 have written to date, to the Malaysian High Commissioner in the UK -- no reply has ever been received
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Attorney General -- no reply has been received to date
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Minister of Law -- no reply has been received to date
However, letters to the British Foreign Secretary have ensured that the British Government is aware and active in the case and that the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud will have major repercussions.
The persistent corruption in Malaysia is destroying the country's international reputation as a safe and equitable environment for investment and is doing immense disservice and harm to its people. Whistleblowers in Malaysia have not had a fair hearing over the years with ominous reports for example of people falling to their death following interrogation by authorities.
Opposition politicians find themselves facing trumped up charges if their accusations get too close to the truth and Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and currently the de facto leader of Keadilan, the People's Justice Party, has already spent a number of years imprisoned for his courageous stand against government corruption.
Tackling fraud will be Anwar Ibrahim's top priority if elected when the country goes to the ballot. Prime Minister Najib Razak must dissolve parliament by April 28th and hold the election within 60 days, but a nervous leadership is delaying the announcement to the last possible moment and is bringing the democratic process of free and fair elections into question.
Fraud and corruption in Malaysia have reached a shameless new level and might be seen as the dying efforts of a government on its way out. Certainly the people of Malaysia deserve better if trust is to be reestablished in Malaysia as an international player in global economics. Respect for the law must begin at the top. If Doxport Technologies and its directors cannot be made accountable, hopefully the government of Malaysia will receive a just verdict of defeat in the imminent election and democratic justice will prevail.
Dr Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of The Scotland Institute and a Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. He is a supporter of Dr. Anwar Ibrahim who has aided Dr. Ibrahim during his travels abroad. He is not paid for these services, nor is he officially affiliated with Dr. Ibrahim's campaign or any other political activities in Malaysia.