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MACC ‘slighted’ over lack of action; Kedah exco in the dark over probe on state sec

As published in Malay Mail today.
 
PETALING JAYA — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday maintained that a top civil servant had broken the Kedah Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 2007.
It said it will request a written explanation as to why he was let off the hook.
Following Malay Mail’s front page expose headlined “Probed by MACC, made state secretary”, the MACC confirmed that a letter and report were sent to the Kedah state secretary on May 13 last year pertaining to an investigation on Datuk Wira Mohd Puat Mohd Ali.
Investigations by the commission revealed that Mohd Puat, who was then the state financial officer, had awarded three roadworks contracts worth RM980,000 each to three companies without referring them to the state secretary or during the state council meetings.
MACC also deemed Mohd Puat’s actions to be a “conflict of interest” as one of the contractors used another firm to carry out renovations to his brother-in-law’s house, which he later moved into.
“MACC had then suggested that disciplinary action be taken against him as the state financial officer when the investigations took place,” it said in a statement.
“Based on our records, MACC received feedback from the state secretary’s office on June 2, 2013, stating the matter should be referred to the state Public Services Department.”
Despite the investigations, Mohd Puat was named the new state secretary, replacing Datuk Wira Rasli Basir, on June 5, 2013.
MACC went on to confirm its deputy public prosecutor had declared that disciplinary action be taken under the 2007 Regulations.
“However, if true as reported that Mohd Puat was let off the hook, MACC is slighted and will request for a written explanation from the appropriate authority as to why he was let free,” it said.
The statement, which was signed off by director of investigation Datuk Mohd Jamidan Abdullah, ended by saying MACC did not have the authority to instruct or influence if the concerned authority decided to let him go.
Efforts to obtain a statement from the Public Services Department in Putrajaya since Monday proved futile.
State Public Services Department secretary Ahmad Termizi Abdul Rani said he was unaware of the report, adding he only assumed duties from Sharhida Nazuha on Sunday, as reported yesterday. Sharhida declined to comment when contacted.
Mohd Puat, when contacted on Tuesday, claimed he was investigated by the state Public Services Department and was cleared of any wrongdoing. He said there was a concerted move to get rid of him and that his services would be not extended when he retired on November 4.


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ALOR STAR — Two Kedah executive council members said they were not aware that its state secretary was investigated for irregularities by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Health committee chairman Datuk Dr Leong Yong Keong said the matter was never discussed during any meeting.
“I never knew anything about this. It was also not mentioned in the audit report ... I do not know why,” he said.
“I would have known about it if the matter was raised during our meetings.”
Tourism, religion and Thai affairs committee chairman Datuk Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid said the Malay Mail report came as a shock to him.
“He is my close friend. I am shocked after reading the news as Mohd Puat is a hard working civil servant who always strives to improve himself in his work,” he said.
“In fact, he has just returned from a short course in Harvard.”
Mohd Rawi said since Mohd Puat, who is a cousin of former Kedah menteri besar, the late Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, claimed the state Public Services Department had cleared him of any irregularities, MACC should clear him of any criminal elements.
Kedah DAP secretary Teoh Boon Kok, however, called on the state government to launch a full-scale investigation.
“The state secretary investigated by MACC on irregularities in awarding contracts worth about RM3 million is difficult for us to swallow,” he said.
Teoh called on Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir to look into the matter as it involved a civil servant in the state government.
Mohd Puat, when met outside the state legislative assembly building at Wisma Darulaman yesterday, avoided further queries.
“You are (talking) nonsense,” he said before walking off.

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