I’m not a suspect, says Muhyiddin over MACC probe into stimulus package

The former prime minister says he told the anti-graft agency the idea for Jana Wibawa came from then finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz.

(FMT) – Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin says he was called in by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to assist in their investigation into the Jana Wibawa Covid-19 stimulus aid but that he is not a suspect in their probe.

Muhyiddin said that Jana Wibawa, a package meant to aid Bumiputera contractors, was carried out by the finance ministry. He added that the anti-graft agency might call former finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz in for questioning as well.

Stating that the project was proposed by Tengku Zafrul, who was then the finance minister, Muhyiddin said he agreed to it as Bumiputera contractors and vendors were among those most severely impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If we didn’t provide help, a large number of them would have had to close,” he said.

“The idea came from (Tengku) Zafrul, and I agreed to it. It was then brought to the Cabinet and approved.”

He added that the finance ministry had the authority to decide which contractors would be included in the programme, and that the Prime Minister’s Office’s (PMO) role was just to facilitate it.

“The approvals were not up to me. It’s important for me to state this.”

He said MACC officers told him that he was not a suspect in their investigation and that he was merely called in “several days ago” to explain certain issues related to Jana Wibawa.

“I was called in specifically (to answer questions) about Jana Wibawa. Not (for an investigation into) RM600 billion, RM530 billion, RM86 billion or RM4.5 billion,” Muhyiddin said.

“Maybe they will call (Tengku) Zafrul. That is up to them if they want to get an explanation.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that projects under the Jana Wibawa stimulus package were among those that his administration had identified as involving costs that were “too high” and did not go through a tender process.

Jana Wibawa was also in the news on Wednesday when deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the finance ministry had ordered a project to be postponed and reviewed to check whether its procurement procedure was in compliance with rules set by the Treasury.

In a Bernama report, he said the postponement – which involves a project valued at RM5.7 billion – was required as there were elements of selective tender or direct negotiation in the procurement process.

Muhyiddin today said that then Treasury secretary-general Asri Hamidin suggested that the PMO process Jana Wibawa applications, a proposal which Muhyiddin shot down.

“The Treasury chief at the time, Asri, suggested to my office that we process these applications but I refused,’ Muhyiddin said.

“It is as if he wanted to give the PMO the authority. I was afraid and said that I don’t like to do that. I said that’s not the PMO’s job. It’s a job that should be done by the finance ministry or other responsible agencies.

“What did this have to do with me? Nothing. My job was only to channel (the aid).”