Heads roll under Malaysia's new administration

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) - Malaysia's new administration made several leadership changes at government agencies yesterday in pursuit of its pledge to weed out corruption and probe the previous government's dealings.

Among the first to fall on Pakatan Harapan's (PH) fifth day in power was anti-corruption chief Dzulkifli Ahmad.

A source told The Straits Times that Tan Sri Dzulkifli, who was appointed two years ago as head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), resigned yesterday morning.

"He submitted his resignation letter to the chief secretary of the government, Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa... He left his office and the premises soon after," the source said.

MACC, however, issued a statement later yesterday saying that Mr Dzulkifli's contract had ended and he will be returning to work at the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that he will be appointing Mr Dzulkifli's replacement as soon as today.

The source also said that Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali and Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull, who were all part of MACC's leadership during the 2015 probe of state fund 1MDB, are set to rejoin the anti-graft agency.

Mr Abu Kassim was sighted yesterday morning near MACC, according to the source.

"From our understanding, he is set to make a return. As for Datuk Seri Mustafar, it is still in the final process of discussion, but it is looking positive," the source added. Mr Shukri is believed to have met Tun Dr Mahathir yesterday.

Hours after news of Mr Dzulkifli's resignation, former MACC investigations and intelligence director Abdul Razak Idris lodged reports against Datuk Seri Najib Razak, alleging that the former premier had used his position for personal gratification and owned properties that could not be accounted for.

Mr Najib has been linked to the scandal at 1MDB after RM2.6 billion (S$880 million), allegedly misappropriated from the fund, was found in his personal accounts. In January 2016, Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Mr Najib of any wrongdoing, saying the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

Dr Mahathir yesterday announced that Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi would go on leave and that his duties will be taken over by the Solicitor-General. "There have been lots of complaints against the Attorney-General. On that basis, we gave him a holiday," he said.

Another senior civil servant who was removed from his duties yesterday was Treasury Secretary-General Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

According to Chief Secretary Dr Ali, Tan Sri Mohamad Irwan was transferred to the Public Services Department effective from yesterday until June 13 this year, and his contract of service has been shortened to June 14.

Mr Irwan heads several government-linked corporations in his role as top civil servant in the Finance Ministry, and this includes chairmanship of 1MDB.

Meanwhile, former Johor Baru MP Shahrir Samad resigned his chairmanship of national land agency Felda after losing his seat in last Wednesday's general election.

"As I was appointed the chairman of Felda by the previous government, it is only proper that I quit the post in an institution led by the new government," he said in his letter of resignation. He was appointed in January last year to address the agency's financial and management woes.

Last Friday, Dr Mahathir said the PH coalition will investigate government agencies for corruption, singling out Mr Apandi, MACC and Election Commission chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah.

When asked yesterday if any senior government officials would be suspended, Dr Mahathir said: "At the moment, I need to get proper information before I can act. I can't just suspend any officer I like."


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