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04 June 2010

Kapar MP slams Selcat for "cover up" in sand-mining probe


INTENSE: Mike (far right) stating his case in front of the Selcat inquiry panel this morning

Kapar Member of Parliament S. Manikavasagam gave a fiery tongue lashing to the Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) inquiry panel this morning.

Manikavasagam or Mike, as he is better known among his Pakatan Rakyat peers, expressed his disappointment when he was given a lengthy explanation by Selangor State Assembly Speaker Teng Chang Kim, who is heading the seven-man panel, with regards to Selcat's procedures and witness eligibility.

The Kapar MP wanted to present two key witnesses, an executive of Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) and a sand-mining contractor, but was stopped from doing so by the committee chairman.

Teng said any witness who wishes to come forward must first provide a written statement to the committee. Only then the committee will decide if the witness is eligible to appear at the hearing.

Teng said so far, the committee only called up a sand-mining contractor from Batang Berjuntai, Cheong Hoong Wooi, as one of the witnesses as the contractor had submitted a written statement to Selcat.

Mike argued that Selcat should be ready to call up witnesses without putting up much constraints and refraining itself from tapping into real, factual information.

"A lot of people wanted to come forward as witnesses. We should not refrain witnesses. The committee should listen."

Adding salt to wound, Teng also rejected Mike's request to tender new evidence at the hearing.

"You should have submitted those documents or evidence beforehand," the chief panellist said.

Mike replied: "I am not happy that this committee is applying a filtering process for a lot of people. Now, I can't submit my evidence and this is a hindrance in seeking the truth."

The Kapar MP said many people trusted his position and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), so much so that they came up to him in hope to solve the alleged corruption activities in the sand-mining industry in Selangor.

"We must do this right away. I don't want another delay. It was good that they came to PKR instead of exposing this via Umno," he told the panel.

Teng instantly interjected, saying that Selcat is a state committee on public hearing and everything must be done accordingly.

"This (the probe) can't happen with too many constraints. This committee is a cover up!" Mike replied, followed by thunderous applause from audiences in the hall.

But Teng was not amused. "Stop clapping! Let me remind you that this is a public hearing to get to the roots of the allegation. Please behave. Tell me, where can you find a public hearing such as this? If you want to clap, please leave," said Teng to everyone present.

The Selcat chairman then called up the next witness - Cheong - purportedly an informer. Upon being told that his time was up, Mike stood up in anger and left the hall.

Today is the third and supposedly final day of Selcat's probe into alleged corrupt practices by Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB), a state-owned sand-mining subsidiary company.

Earlier, KSSB director Ramli Abdul Majid was presented before the panel, a continuation of yesterday's probe.

Other panellists in the Selcat inquiry are Haniza Talha (PKR-Taman Merdan), Azmin Ali (PKR-Bukit Antarabangsa), Saari Sungib (Pas-Hulu Kelang), Edward Lee Poh Lin (DAP-Bukit Gasing), Ismail Sani (BN-Dusun Tua) and Sulaiman Abdul Razak (BN-Permatang).


What is the point of having a public hearing if witnesses are refrained from testifying by procedures. Selcat made those procedures and Selcat must change them. Time and again we were told that the Sgor govt is an open govt. Show it even when mistakes are made. Cover it up and you would rule only one term.

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