Recently, there is this news that a CM of a state bought a bungalow house for RM2.8 million. The house has a land area of 10000 sq ft.
This person, when questioned, replied that the house is 30 years old and that it has no swimming pool.
In my opinion, this reply is really unwise, and can be considered a monstrous gaffe for a seasoned politician. Bear in mind that most Malaysians, even some professionals, cannot even afford a linked house, let alone a bungalow. So to say the house has no swimming pool is like the case of Queen Marie Antoinette, who famously asked starving peasants why they didn’t eat cake.
Then the father of the person came to his defence and contrast this house with the case of Toyo, former chief of another state who was found guilty of corruption.
The gist of the matter is not whether this bungalow is a palatial one like Toyo’s . It does not matter whether this house has no swimming pool.
The fact is this is a house with land area of 10000 sq feet in land-scarce Penang, which is beyond the dream of most ordinary people. The fact is the purchaser is a person holding a powerful public position answerable to the people who elected him.
We need to establish a few more facts:
1. What is the market rate of the house? How much is the going rate per sq feet at the time of purchase , and how much per sq ft he paid for it ?
2. If the house is sold cheaper than the market rate as alleged, why is the seller selling it cheaper?
3. Is there extensive renovation of the house prior to selling/ renting it out? If so, then it does not matter whether the house is 30 years old or 5 years old. An old house that is extensively renovated is as good as a new house.
4. If the selling price is below market rate, then we cannot simply attribute it to ‘willing buyer’ willing seller. Just like the 2.6 billion donation, we cannot just conclude that it is a case of willing donor willing receiver. We need to know whether the seller has benefited in any deals , just like we are asking the motive of the donation of 2.6 billion.
Bear in mind that it is not the sum that matters. A crime is a crime. A billion dollar crime is a crime. A one dollar crime is also a crime. It does not matter.
If any political party wants to do well, its leaders must show examples that they are totally accountable and practice transparency, to distinguish themselves from the Big Brother. Otherwise, it would just be a case of a pot calling the kettle black.
also published as ‘why the bungalow matter matters’, here.