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Probed by MACC, made state secretary; state sec says MACC report had 'loopholes'

As published in Malay Mail today.

PETALING JAYA, Aug 13 — The spotlight is on Kedah State Secretary Datuk Wira Mohd Puat Mohd Ali following a report by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on irregularities in awarding contracts for three roadworks worth almost RM3 million.

Mohd Puat was state financial officer when he awarded the projects without following procedures, said the report.

MACC deemed Mohd Puat’s actions as “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 investigations revealed Mohd Puat had on October 18, 2011 awarded contracts for three road works to three companies, worth RM980,000 each, without referring  them to the state secretary or during the state council meetings.

MACC forwarded its findings to then state secretary Datuk Wira Rasli Basir on May 13, 2013, and advised that disciplinary action be taken against Mohd Puat under the Kedah Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 2007.

Instead, Mohd Puat replaced Rasli as the state secretary on June 5, 2013.

The report also stated the renovations to Puat’s brother-in-law’s home began in January 2011 and ended in November the same year.

The report said: “Mohd Puat was confirmed to have moved into the house in December 2011,” the report stated.

“Mohd Puat was aware of the person behind the renovation work and later awarded him a road maintenance contract worth RM980,000.

“He appointed him directly without declaring or informing the state secretary or the state council meeting.”

The report said apart from conflict of interest, the situation gave rise to accusations of abuse of power and mismanagement.

MACC was of the opinion Mohd Puat had broken regulations 4(2)(centre)(i) of the Kedah Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 2007.

The rules forbid an officer from acting in any manner that allows reasonable suspicion that he allowed his private interest to contradict with his work in civil service and to disrupt his effectiveness as a civil servant, the report stated.

MACC yesterday declined to comment on the status of the case.

Sources within, however, said there was no follow-through with the case.

According to the 1997 Guidelines in Managing Disciplinary Cases as referred by the Anti-Corruption Commission (now known as MACC), point 7 states: “Cases by ACA that take more than six months are deemed as long. The head of department must inform ACA and the Public Service Department the current status of the case and why the case is taking a long time to solve.”

Mohd Puat: MACC report had loopholes

Claiming there was a concerted move to get rid of him, Kedah State Secretary Datuk Wira Mohd Puat Mohd Ali insisted he has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the state Public Services Department (PSD).

He was responding to a Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) letter and report sent to the Kedah state secretary on May 13, 2013 about irregularities in awarding three road maintenance projects worth RM980,000 each to three different companies in 2011.

Mohd Puat was the state financial officer then and was appointed state secretary more than three weeks later on June 5.

“I don’t understand why this is being brought up again. The state PSD investigated and found the facts (MACC’s investigations) had loopholes. There was no wrongdoing ... no prima facie case,” he said.

“I am retiring on November 4. There is this group with ill intentions, they do not want my contract to be extended upon my retirement. I suppose they are trying to tarnish my name again,” he said.

Mohd Puat refused to speak about the renovation work to his brother-in-law’s house by a company owned by the same person who ran another company that was awarded one of the road works contracts.

“This is fitnah (lies) ... this is a set-up,” he said.

Mohd Puat, who is a cousin of former Kedah Mentri Besar, the late Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, warned he would report the matter to the “higher authorities” and lodge a police report. Azizan was Mentri Besar when PAS took over the state in 2008.

“I hope you don’t write this. If you do, I will have to sue you,” he said.

“Just leave me alone. Let me retire in good faith and in good mind.

“I shouldn’t have answered your call,” he said before ending the conversation.


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