Baru challenges HDC Chairman to court

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian today told the chairman of the Housing Development Corporation Dr Abang Abdul Rauf Abang Zen to make good of his threat and take him to court for “distorting the facts” of the Auditor-General’s Report 2016.

Baru said he welcomes the threat as a trial would provide a full opportunity for everyone to delve deeply into the facts of the matter and examine in full the details of the unsatisfactory findings of the AG in the report.

Dr Abang Rauf in his hurried media conference yesterday had also made the same legal threat against DAP leaders claiming their “twisted” and “misinterpreted” comments to the media and posts on social media had tarnished the image of HDC.

Dr Abang Rauf made the threat even as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Thursday arrested an engineer and a senior technician of the corporation in connection with their investigation into HDC’s failure to carry out a tendered painting and renovation work in the Permyjaya low-cost housing scheme in Miri.

The 59 year-old engineer and 39 year-old technician are now in remand for seven days.

Dr Abang Rauf, a former assistant industrial development minister, at his media conference said he would push for HDC to initiate the legal actions against the opposition leaders at the emergency meeting of the board he is calling for next month.

Baru, the Ba Kelalan assemblyman, in his response said he fully welcomes “this novel initiative” by Dr Abang Rauf.

Baru said he could be presented with the chance “to request for better and further particulars of each instance of unsatisfactory finding” if the threat becomes a reality.

“Our Miri MP Dr Michael Teo and Wanita deputy chief Voon Shiak Ni had made numerous site visits to the flats in Miri mentioned in the report for which RM2.88 mil was paid for painting and repairing works found not executed, or carried out defectively or not done in accordance with the requirements of the job scope.

“The flats are in bad condition and some parts are even cracking up and chipping off.

“There are real problems on the ground and the chairman should direct his energy towards rectifying these and improving oversight rather than threatening the opposition with legal action,” Baru said in his media conference in Kuching this morning.

He also said at the board meeting, the board should perhaps obtain sound legal advice on the consequences of breach of statutory duties, misfeasance and breach of fiduciary duties before they make any decision.

“It would be best if their attempts at damage control be directed at their internal procedures and controls rather than at shooting the opposition for merely highlighting their shortcomings.”

Baru said the arrests of the two HDC staff “obviously showed the MACC must have had reason to believe that HDC was implicated in this impropriety, otherwise they would not have carried out these arrests”.

He said therefore, Dr Abang Rauf is jumping the gun to protest HDC’s innocence.

Baru was also surprised at HDC’s challenge on the AG’s Report and the MACC investigation.

He said it was an eye opener on the commission’s defiance of the statutory duties of the institutions “clothed with the power to check on accountability and integrity of public spending, abuse and misuse of power and corrupt practices by the public authorities”.

In the face of such a defiance, Baru is now calling on the MACC to investigate other unsatisfactory findings in the AG report.

He said the MACC should delve into HDC’s financial practices.

He was referring to the advance payment of RM16.80 million for a road upgrading project in Sibu, which the AG stated no prior approval was obtained resulting in the government incurring interest charges of RM1.77 million.

Then there was also the payment of RM33.40 million to suppliers without being verified by an authorised officer.

The Auditor-General’s report stated the supplier’s invoices for three progress payments amounting to RM10.33 million were not original copies; four progress payments amounting to RM2.30million not supported by suppliers invoices from the contractor; six payment vouchers amounting to RM20.77 million were also not supported by payment certificates.

Baru urged the MACC to investigate fully all these findings and bring those responsible to account if there is evidence of wrongdoing.