Six MACC advisory board members distanced themselves from ‘no conflict of interest’ statement due to unpopular public reaction, says Abu Zahar

PUTRAJAYA: Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang believes the move by the six Anti-Corruption Advisory Board members to distance themselves from his statement regarding the MACC chief commissioner was because of the unpopular reaction it received.

In expressing his regret over the stand they made, the board chairman detailed out his side of the story and the communication chronology between him and certain members of the board.

He said he had received a WhatsApp message from Datuk Seri Azman Ujang on Jan 7 at 6.19pm where the latter wrote “the issue is getting hotter and hotter”, followed by a WhatsApp by another member, Datuk David Chua Kok Tee.

Chua’s text read: “LPPR (the advisory board) need to meet and discuss this matter urgently and come up with a clear statement to state its position by early next week. Keep silent is not an option.”

“At 6.27pm Tan Sri Ismail Omar texted: ‘Yes. we’re meeting on Jan 11. Need to address relevant issues.’

“Following their views and requests, I then agreed to call for a closed-door meeting at the MACC Academy at Jalan Duta, 10am on Jan 11,” said Abu Zahar at a press conference on Tuesday (Jan 11).

However, on Jan 8, Abu Zahar found out that the six had met without him and they had issued a media statement.

“I am prepared to be investigated by any authorities at any time.

“As I have always maintained, what is important is for the MACC, as an institution, to be supported by the people in its fight against corruption and power abuse, without fear or favour,” he said.

On Jan 8, the six had issued a statement, distancing themselves from the statement made by Abu Zahar over the shares controversy implicating MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki.

Aside from Azman, Chua and Ismail, the other three are Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, Datuk Dr Hamzah Kassim and Datuk Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff.

They said they were not satisfied with the explanations given by Azam, despite Abu Zahar saying otherwise during the press conference last week.

“We categorically wish to state that the board members at that meeting or at any time thereafter did not express such opinion as he attributed to,” the six said in a joint press statement.

The six added that the comments were Abu Zahar’s personal views and a separate discussion was held on the matter with several proposals given.

On Jan 5, Abu Zahar said there was no pecuniary interest or conflict of interest on the part of Azam over the issue of acquiring shares of two companies in 2015 as the chief commissioner did not purchase the shares himself but was done by his young brother.

The board had called for a meeting on Nov 24 last year and had summoned Azam to explain the allegations.