May 31, 10
Kapar MP S Manikavasagam has produced a witness to corroborate his allegation that a state-owned company has been involved in illegal sand-mining operations in Selangor. "Today, it is not empty talk, I am bringing a witness," he said at a press conference in his office today. Sand-mining contractor Zahar Rusili then told reporters that he has uncovered proof of illegal sand- mining activity in Sungai Rasa, near Rawang, near a site where he was working. Zahar, 43, claimed that the sand was mined illegally on state-owned land, alleging possible collusion between state-owned company Kuala Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) and the authorities, as well as his former business partner. "Hundreds of lorry-loads of sand were taken out from the disused mine without proper documentation," he claimed. He said he had submitted a complaint and evidence to KSSB, the police, the office of Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim (left) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, but to no avail. The evidence was in the form of video recordings and a written record of all sand removed without proper clearance, up to the time that he received a threat on his life. "They sent nearly 30 gangsters to threaten me... A guy with a gun came to my home... My car was even rammed by a another vehicle just after I submitted a report to the MACC," he said. Although he then stopped pursuing the matter, he said he felt compelled to come forward after Manikavasagam took up the issue. The contractor said he was awarded a contract to mine sand from a river-bed but was unable to handle the job on his own and engaged a partner to assist him. After a while, however, his partner 'hijacked' the permit in order to mine sand from a nearby state-owned disused mine. "This was done using my permit under my name, so I wanted no part of it (illegal sand mining)," he said. 'Not allowed to testify' Manikavasagam said Zahar was among the key witnesses who had been turned down by the Selangor legislative assembly's Select Committee on Accountability, Competency and Transparency (Selcat) which is holding an inquiry. Selcat's letter did not prevent his witnesses from testifying, but cited procedure in stating that only witnesses summoned by the committee may testify. The letter also said that, if his witnesses want to testify, they are required to submit written testimony with their personal details. If their accounts are relevant to the public hearing, they would be asked to testify. Manikavasagam insisted that such procedures would only lead to more delays, while information about his witnesses may be leaked, thereby jeopardising their safety. "All of this will take time and it may endanger the witnesses. Look at what was done to me and I am an MP. Imagine what they may do to the witnesses. Mr Zahar here for one, had gone through a lot already," he said. His lawyers are due to elaborate on the matter at another press conference tomorrow, which will address the Selcat rejection and other legal matters. Manikavasagam has kicked up a storm with his recent outbursts. While he has claimed to be only doing his job, certain quarters have questioned why he did not wait for the investigations to be completed. Some have claimed that he is using the issue as a smoke-screen for a planned exit from PKR, which he has vehemently denied.
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