Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Conflict of interest alleged over police choppers

Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan and a member of the powerful Police Force Commission (SPP), Othman Talib, have been implicated in allegations of power abuse involving a company linked to the latter.

Web Power Sdn Bhd, a company that lists Othman as one of their directors, is said to be currently engaged in negotiations with the police to rent 31 helicopters - a lucrative business deal that will generate RM400 million annually for the company if sealed.

In making the charge, DAP MP Teresa Kok said she had run a check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia and confirmed that Othman is indeed one of the four directors of Web Power.

She said that there was suspicion of foul play as Othman was appointed as a member of the SPP last year after he became the director of the company on June 2, 2006.

The SPP is the body responsible for the appointment, confirmation, promotion and transfer of all members of the police force. Disciplinary action against errant policemen also comes under its purview.

The commission has four permanent members including the IGP and the Internal Security Minister, his secretary-general and a member of the Public Services Commission. There are up to six non-permanent members appointed by the King on advice of the government.

“Those who appointed him as an SPP member knew from the beginning that Othman had a stake in Web Power and yet approved of his appointment,” said Teresa at a press conference held at party headquarters in Petaling Jaya today.

IGP’s ‘enthusiasm’

Aside from that, Web Power is also alleged to have been picked by the police force as the service provider the latter’s sophisticated e-Police Force Solution, a digital wireless networking system.

This system is said to be able to provide voice, data, graphic, biometric and DNA data and assist the police in solving and preventing crime.

Though having the system is a positive move, Kok said there was suspicion over the police chief’s “... display of unrelenting enthusiasm to have a company owned by a member of SPP appointed the service provider for the e-Police system”.

Kok said this ‘enthusiasm’ was evident as the IGP did not undertake the necessary procedures when awarding the e-Police system to Web Power.

“Musa had addressed the Letter of Intent and Letter of Award directly to the prime minister when he was supposed to have addressed it to the chief secretary of the government,” noted Teresa.

According to her, the procedure for a business transaction involving the Internal Security Ministry - under which the police force is under - is for it to first write a Letter of Intent to the chief secretary.

The latter will send the Letter of Intent to the finance minister and only after approval by the finance minister can the Internal Security Ministry begin to announce the tender.

No answers

Kok, member of parliament for Seputeh, said Musa (right) bypassed this procedure and had asked Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to directly issue a Letter of Award handing over the tender to Othman’s company.

She also said she had requested answers from the Deputy Internal Security Minister Foo Ah Kiow during Parliament’s sitting in December last year but has yet to receive any explanation regarding the discrepancies.

“I questioned whether a conflict of interest is implied when a member of the SPP whom is listed as a director of the company is currently in business talk with the police?”

During the last Parliament sitting, Kok had also demanded explanations for why was there a need for the police to rent 31 helicopters when they had only asked for eight under the Ninth Malaysian Plan.

Kok said the deals involving the police choppers and computer system were a blatant case of power abuse and said the prime minister himself should look into the matter.

“I urge Abdullah recommend to the King to terminate Othman’s services as a member of the SPP,” she said.

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