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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Azalina's Office raided by MACC

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers raided the office of Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman in relation to a probe on vote-buying for the Umno party elections.

Azalina was not present during the raid.

MACC officers spent three hours in her office and inspected documents in relation to the award of contracts by the ministry.

The officers also took away with them a number of files and other documents.

Today’s raid follows the detention last week of Azalina’s political secretary who was caught by MACC officers with RM75,000 in cash in his car.

The arrest of Azalina’s political secretary and the raid on her office today will have a significant impact on the minister’s fortunes in Umno and continued employment in the incoming Najib administration.

The minister is competing for a position on the party’s supreme council.

So far no senior Umno politician has been charged with corruption in relation to vote-buying in the Umno elections though there has been a trail of claims saying that money has been exchanging like never before for Election 2009.

Azalina is the highest profile politician to be under investigation in the current probe on vote-buying in Umno.

In a statement issued after the MACC raid, her office said they noted press reports about the probe into her political secretary’s affairs.

They also pledged to give their full cooperation to MACC officers.

It is understood the investigations are centred on whether the Tourism Ministry had awarded contracts to Umno delegates ahead of the party polls.

Investigators are also looking into the affairs of Pempena, a subsidiary of the Tourism Ministry,
which had shed its investments in five companies after suffering a loss of RM20 million.

This was out of an RM54.4 million total outlay on 24 companies as stated in a summary report of a “high level business review” of the Pempena Group released to the ministry on Nov

In their probe into vote-buying activities for the Umno polls, the MACC has so far picked up 12 party divisional officers.

They were allegedly working to help Datuk Norza Zakaria defend his supreme council seat.

The men are being investigated for distributing between RM300 and RM500 to some of the 2,000 delegates who will be attending the general assembly-cum-elections.

Norza has also been questioned by the MACC but has denied any involvement in money politics, saying that he was a victim of a scheme to discredit him.


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