Of lies and spurned suitors

By Leslie Andres and Farrah Naz Karim
From New Straits Times Online of July 07, 2006

KUALA LUMPUR: The verbal duel between the Customs Department and Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusof continued yesterday with more revelations being made.
Mohd Said described the statement by department deputy director-general Datuk Mat Yusof Abdullah in newspapers as "a lie", while the department claimed he was acting like a spurned suitor on a personal vendetta.
Mohd Said claimed "middlemen" were involved in selling seized cars cheaply to people without going through the open tender process.
He claimed a man had lodged a report at a police station in Petaling Jaya, stating that he had been offered a BMW at a cheap price by someone claiming to be close to Customs officials.
"This man said he had paid the Ďmiddle maní who later died. So he wants to sue the manís widow for the money," Mohd Said said.
Mohd Said refused to lodge a report with the Anti-Corruption Agency.
"Why should I? If they can investigate poison-pen letters, why canít they investigate now when I have spoken in an official capacity. What I have said can be found in the Hansard," he said yesterday.
Mohd Said had said last week that he had been offered an opportunity to buy a seized vehicle but had been shown cars in bad condition.
Mohd Said said he had been told that the car he was interested in, a Mercedes Benz, had already been booked by someone else. When asked why the vehicle had yet to be collected, the Customs officer said that was because the case was still pending in court
Mat Yusof said two days ago that Mohd Saidís claims were untrue, and that he had been offered the Mercedes Masterpiece.
Mohd Said said: "I went to see a new model of Mercedes Benz, the CLK 200 Kompressor, but what they wanted to sell me was a Masterpiece."
Meanwhile, Customs Prevention director Adnan Ariffin said yesterday Mohd Said had his heart set on a Mercedes Masterpiece (at the Wisma Kastam in Ayer Keroh, Malacca), which had a reserve price of RM40,000, although it had been taken up by a government official.
Adnan said the department then offered him another Mercedes Masterpiece, but Mohd Said rejected the offer, insisting on the one he first saw.
"He is like a rejected suitor... after failing to get the love he pursued, he goes all out to tarnish the familyís name, in this case, the Customs."
Touching on comments by several MPs who questioned why they were never offered "special car deals" by the department, Adnan said they had to apply for it.
He reiterated that the department was not in the business of selling cars.
Adnan said Mohd Saidís attacks against the department indicated he was trying to "destroy Customsí credibility and integrity".
In another broadside, Mohd Said said Customs officers should not reply to his statements through the media, but should instead reply to the ministry.
"What I said in Parliament was general in nature.
"If he (Mat Yusof) does not understand, I am willing to teach him. His duty and responsibility is to give the facts to the ministry, and let the ministry reply to me as an MP," he told reporters at the MPsí lounge in Parliament
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz defended Mohd Said, saying the Customs Department should provide information regarding the MPís allegations to the Finance Ministry to be answered in the Dewan Rakyat.
"They do not have the right to answer in the newspapers. I donít agree with the way the Customs is going about it.
"It shows that he (Mat Yusof) does not understand the way Parliament works. The YB asked the question in Parliament, not through the newspapers," he said.

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