The loving couple
The husband of a Malaysian minister has been charged with misusing almost £11 million of government funds – allegedly to buy luxury apartments, holidays and a Mercedes – a day after she signalled she would quit.
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Malaysia’s minister for women, family and community, said she would step down next month when her term as senator ends, though she denied any wrongdoing and said she was acting as a responsible member of the government.
The minister became embroiled in the so-called “Cowgate” scandal when accusations surfaced about the misuse of funds earmarked for a £55 million government cattle project run by her husband, Mohamad Salleh Ismail, and three children.
The allegations surrounding the fund has been a source of deep embarrassment to the government of prime minister Najib Razak, who is likely to call an election this year, as he had vowed to root out corruption.
Prosecutors on Monday charged Mohamad Salleh, 64, with two counts of criminal breach of trust and two more of embezzlement relating to almost £11 million, allegedly buy luxury property in Malaysia and neighbouring Singapore. He denied the charges.
The project was designed to play to poorer voters, the bedrock of support for the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). But the “Cowgate” scandal has seen the strategy explode in the government’s face at a time when rising corruption and growing income disparity have eroded its popularity.
What always makes me chuckle is how the corrupt demonstrate such confidence in the corruption of the whole society, in the acceptance of corruption – they seem to feel no one will notice how much has gone missing into their pockets. Forever astounding.