Phang denies MACC satisfied with AG explanation

(The Malaysian Insider) – Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) corruption prevention panel advisor Tan Sri Robert Phang has denied that the panel was satisfied with the Attorney-General’s (AG) clarification of his links to a former Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman now being probed for graft.

Phang said AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s explanation to the panel had failed to dispel suspicions that he was “consorting” with Shahidan Shafie, a proxy for former MAS executive chairman Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli.

Tajuddin was MAS executive chairman from 1994 to 2001. During his tenure, the national airline experienced losses totalling RM8 billion – its biggest ever – which led to complaints being lodged against him.

Phang (pic), who is also a Justice of Peace, was responding to a statement by panel chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam claiming that all members had been convinced of Abdul Gani’s innocence following the latter’s meeting with them yesterday.

 “That was not how I perceived the meeting,” he said in a press release today.

The country’s top lawyer met MACC board and panel members for a dialogue yesterday morning and furnished proof of his recent Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca which he was said to have travelled with Shahidan.

In his statement, Navaratnam had said that MACC members were satisfied with Abdul Gani’s explanation and found that there was no need to investigate the allegations.

“We found that there was no case at all to accuse him of being linked to Tajuddin just because of this trip. It was irresponsible to allege that he was in any way linked,” Navaratnam had said.

“Panel members did not see it fit to investigate the matter as we do not go by hearsay allegations or irresponsible rumours.”

Phang said today that Navaratnam’s “hasty” statement would only serve to reinforce the perception that the MACC members who attended the meeting were merely “rubber stamps” acting to preserve the AG’s position.

“I deeply regret that Ramon considers these allegations against Abdul Gani as just loose talks, rumours and speculations with no proper basis. I fear the public will see this as just another whitewash,” he said.

“By his actions, Ramon has eroded any vestige of credibility that may be left of the MACC, its advisory panels and other committee members.”

The Social Care Foundation chairman said he considered Navaratnam’s statement a direct attack on him as Phang had earlier called for Abdul Gani to clear the air surrounding allegations that he had profited from Shahidan.

He explained that he had been concerned that the AG’s silence over the matter would only fuel deeper suspicions and confusion.

Phang added that it was “imperative” that Abdul Gani explain why he chose not to prosecute Tajuddin, as recommended by the then-Commercial Crimes Department director, Datuk Ramli Yusuff. He pointed out that the public already saw the AG’s decision to prosecute Ramli as an attempt to cover up the MAS scandal.