January 5, 2011
Tan Sri Robert Phang’s Response to Disclosure by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam of a Confidential Meeting
Press Statement : January 5, 2011
Chairman – Social Care Foundation
Panel Advisor of Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)
On Tuesday January 4, 2011, a meeting was held at the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission Academy (MACC). 30 members of the MACC Board and Panel members attended this meeting with the Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail. I was amongst those invited to attend this meeting. As usual it is only on invitation basis and we were told this was a confidential meeting.I was thus surprised to read that evening’s news reports that the MACC Corruption Prevention Panel Chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam had issued a statement to the effect that the MACC members who attended this meeting were satisfied with Abdul Gani’s explanation and found that there was no need to investigate the allegations of Abdul Gani’s connection with former MAS Chairman, Tan Sri Tajuddin’s proxy, one En Shahidan Shafie.
I am equally surprised not just because Ramon’s statement couldn’t be further from the truth, but also because Ramon had breached the confidentiality of this meeting by making this public disclosure. That Ramon can be in a haste to issue such a statement will inevitably invite further allegations that the Board and Panel members who attended this meeting were just rubber stamps to preserve the AG’s position. By his actions, Ramon has eroded any vestige of credibility that may be left of the MACC, its advisory panels and other committee members.
I am therefore compelled to respond because I am a member of the same MACC Corruption Prevention Panel of which Ramon is the Chairman. One thing I must agree with Ramon is that Abdul Gani had indeed gone out on a limb and had gone overboard in trying to convince us of his innocence and that he had no close relationship with En Shahidan. To me and others, it was a sorry sight.
I regret Ramon’s statement that – “ MACC members were satisfied with Abdul Gani’s explanation and found that there was no need to investigate the allegations”. I also resent Tan Sri Ramon’s statement that – “We found that there was no case at all to accuse him of being linked to Tajuddin just because of this Haj trip. It was irresponsible to allege that he was in any way linked.”
I consider Ramon’s statement to be a direct attack on me as I had earlier called on Abdul Gani to clear the air over public allegations of his relationship with Shahidan and the Mecca Haj pilgrimage. I was concerned that Abdul Gani’s silence would fuel deeper suspicions and confusion.
Ramon can speak for himself but he has no mandate from me or the other panel members to make that statement on our behalf. That was not how I perceived the meeting. What was certain was that my esteemed colleagues who attended the meeting did not want to humiliate Abdul Gani any further. It was not our intention to humble the Top Lawyer of the country.
It is therefore imperative for Abdul Gani to dispel any suspicion surrounding his conduct of consorting with Shahidan Shafie and the Mecca Haj pilgrimage. The public needs to be satisfied as to why Abdul Gani had not acted on the recommendations of the then Director of Commercial Crimes Department, Dato’ Ramli Yusuff, that Tajuddin should be prosecuted. Inevitable the public already perceived that the AG’s decision to prosecute Dato’ Ramli as an attempt to cover up the MAS scandal.
I deeply regret that Ramon considers these allegations against Abdul Gani as just loose talk, rumours and speculations with no proper basis. I fear the public will see this as just another whitewash. These are matters that have been in the public domain and it is only fit and proper that I remind the powers that be of the public displeasure.