Investigate Robert Phang, deputy minister tells MACC

(Malay Mail) – Calls have been made for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate Tan Sri Robert Phang Miow Sin, a member of its Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel, who is alleged to have tried to bribe a government official last year.

Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong urged MACC to initiate an investigation.

“It’s the obligation of MACC to check on allegations involving an important personality within the MACC circle. It has to investigate the allegations even though it’s from a blog post since it involves the commission panel member.

“They cannot depend on receiving formal complaints alone before they initiate a probe,” Liew told The Malay Mail in a telephone interview yesterday.

Adding that MACC had in the past initiated investigations based on claims from other unofficial sources, he said: “The commission should treat this case the same way they would ‘poison-pen’ letters. This kind of allegation can only be substantiated after an investigation.”

Liew’s opinion was shared by MACC anti-corruption advisory board member Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas, who said any allegation concerning corruption should be investigated by the MACC.

“We cannot allow the MACC’s credibility to be undermined, especially if it involves an advisory panel member. So, I think it should be investigated by the commission,” said Megat Najmuddin when contacted yesterday.

The allegation against Phang first surfaced in the blog ‘A Voice’ last Monday. The blog at named Phang and even posted his picture when alleging that he tried to bribe with money hidden in a T-shirt before Hari Raya at the office of a ministry’s secretary-general to induce the award of RM900 million worth of contracts by the ministry.

In an exclusive interview with The Paper That Cares yesterday, Phang had described the allegation as “utter rubbish, misleading and amusing”.

Phang had said the allegation was to intimidate him from speaking out on issues of public importance. He had said the bloggers were “cowards” for hiding their true identities.

On whether he would allow himself to be investigated by MACC, Phang said he welcomed such a probe. “If at all there is any investigation by MACC, not only do I welcome it but I will extend my fullest cooperation.”

Saying he would walk the talk, Phang was willing to relinquish his post as MACC advisor if an investigation was carried out.

“Likewise, I believe others should do the same.”

Phang believed he had come under personal attack because he recently voiced concern about several high-profile cases, naming issues related to Malaysia Airlines loss scandal; the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s relationship with former MAS chairman Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli’s proxy Shahidan Shafie; perceived selective prosecution; and the disclosure of a confidential MACC meeting by panel chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who announced the A-G had been cleared of any wrongdoing without any investigation.

Meanwhile, Navaratnam, when contacted with regards to the same issue, said one should not take the allegations by the bloggers seriously without proper evidence.

“We have to be fair and leave it up to MACC to handle this matter. Our role is purely advisory and we have no basis to urge for a probe by the commission. It’s not our role.”

Special Committee on Corruption panel member Dr Tan Seng Giaw said allegations from a blog post was not realistic enough to be worth consideration.

“This kind of allegation is difficult to prove without evidence. I respect the people’s view but any allegation on the Internet is always questionable.”