Whilst the offering from EPF is much deserved by employees, the fact that the generosity shown comes hot on the heels of the looming 14th general election is telling

THE ruling government is agog with the magnanimity shown by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) which has made history by doling out a generous dividend after some 21 years.

Whilst the offering from EPF is much deserved by employees, the fact that the generosity shown comes hot on the heels of the looming 14th general election (GE14) is telling.

Also, that the EPF delivered the good news just three days after a politician activist-cum whistleblower was sentenced to 30 months’ jail for leaking banking details relating to the scandalous National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) exposes the desperation besieging the ruling government in winning over the rakyat’s trust.

Rafizi, the Pandan MP and former Public Bank clerk Johari Mohamad were declared guilty on February 7 by the Sessions Court of breaching the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) with regards to details of the NFC accounts.

The court however granted a stay of execution for both the accused and set bail at RM15,000 each.

In 2012, Rafizi and Johari were charged under Section 97 of Bafia for the disclosure of four accounts linked to NFC and its chairperson Mohd Salleh Ismail, who is the husband of Umno Wanita chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

That a whistleblower has been persecuted for exposing malfeasance involving a government agency is unbecoming. If bringing to light the wrongdoings of government agencies is a ‘crime’, how then does Putrajaya intend to put an end to the contagious malaise of corruption and abuse of power?

By punishing whistleblowers, a deadly precedent has been set that it is foolhardy for anyone wanting to highlight crimes like graft.

Ironically, while Rafizi and Johari are to languish for their willingness to expose the fraud committed by those managing the NFC, the government sees no rhyme or reason to berate the top management of NFC and taking them to task for misusing public funds.

Is the EPF’s history-making dividend a red herring, given the backlash the Rafizi-Johari guilty verdict has courted?

“Alhamdulillah (Praise God) as a result of good management and investments, today EPF declared a dividend rate of 6.9% for conventional savings and 6.4% for shariah savings.

“The distribution of dividends and gross investment income this year is higher than last year. Congratulations EPF!” Najib had said on Twitter last Saturday.

There is no denying that too much is at stake for the federal government vis-a-vis the GE14. Still, would taking Malaysians for fools reignite their trust in the present day government led by Prime Minister Najib Razak?

Will the 6.9% dividend declared by EPF be yet another whitewash by Putrajaya to shroud a series of controversies that have besmirched premier Najib’s credibility and reputation?

In any case, the de profundis or heartfelt cry to ‘Save Malaysia’ has become even more urgent post the Rafizi and Johari guilty judgement.

With only months to go before the country gets embroiled in what could be the most damning of general elections, Putrajaya perhaps needs every opportunity available to convince Malaysians that it has their best interest at heart.

Glossing over the 2017 dividend given out by the EPF and condemning whistleblowers like Rafizi and conveniently shutting both eyes shut over the dishonesty and breach of trust by NFC, the federal government has tragically made a ‘historical’ blunder, one that might prove costly come the polls.

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