ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – A third man linked to Malaysia’s former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin was charged yesterday with graft in relation to a COVID-19 stimulus programme started under the Muhyiddin administration, while another man was handed additional charges after being charged on Tuesday.
Adam Radlan Adam Muhammad, a leader in Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), was charged with two counts of receiving bribes amounting to MYR4.1 million.
Just a day before, he was charged with receiving a MYR500,000 bribe and soliciting a cut of a deal from an infrastructure company.
As Adam’s charges were read out in Kuala Lumpur, another businessman with alleged links to Muhyiddin was charged in Johor for allegedly soliciting bribes worth MYR12.8 million.
Teo Wee Cheng, 65, was previously named a “close friend” of the former premier by one of the witnesses in United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) chief Zahid Hamidi’s graft trial in 2022.
On Tuesday, Bersatu Information Chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan was charged with accepting bribes worth MYR6.9 million to help secure projects under the Jana Wibawa initiative.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Yesterday’s charges balloon the value of the Jana Wibawa controversy to MYR24.1 million, following an investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.
Jana Wibawa is one of several COVID-19 stimulus initiatives that came on the radar of the anti-graft body after Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim claimed that funds were misused.
Muhyiddin’s administration had initiated the programme to help bumiputera contractors. Construction projects were awarded under this scheme through direct negotiation with the government, instead of a tender process.
Zahid, who is now deputy prime minister, said last week that Jana Wibawa projects worth MYR5.7 billion have been halted pending a review of their procurement processes.
Muhyiddin, who heads Malaysia’s opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN), has said the charges were a form of “selective persecution” meant to taint opposition leaders with graft charges at a time when several government leaders, including Zahid, are also facing graft trials.
Wan Saiful resigned as Bersatu information chief yesterday, but Muhyiddin insisted the move was not an admission of guilt.
Muhyiddin was prime minister between March 2020 until August 2021, and is the second-shortest serving premier in Malaysia. His premiership was almost entirely dominated by Malaysia’s struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic and a six-month-long state of emergency.