PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Mohd Shukri Abdull said he wasn't fired or pressured to step down from his job, as he addressed speculation on why he quit at the midway point of a two-year contract.
Datuk Seri Shukri also asked the public to give their support to the new chief commissioner of the anti-graft agency, Ms Latheefa Koya, who is facing headwinds on her unexpected appointment.
Mr Shukri told a news conference on Saturday (June 8): "I appeal to the public, let me leave the MACC peacefully. All accusations that I was fired are all baseless.
"I never took any bribes or abused a single sen. Never in my life have I covered up for anyone or closed any files."
He said the MACC's job was to investigate and that any decision to prosecute anyone based on its probes was left to the Attorney-General's Chambers.
His explanation is closely watched amid speculation that he was removed from office by the Mahathir Mohamad administration, as Mr Shukri's two-year contract was due to expire only at the end of next year.
Mr Shukri said his decision to quit was planned from the very first day he returned to the MACC.
"I did not run away in shock, or shorten my contract, nor am I being ousted or leaving the MACC high and dry," he added.
Mr Shukri, 59, said he had informed Prime Minister Mahathir when he was appointed in May last year of his intention to only serve for a year.
Mr Shukri was forced into retirement from the MACC in 2016, as he was investigating into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
He said that on May 14 last year, he was called up to meet Tun Dr Mahathir. This was just five days after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance won in the May 9 General Election.
He said PM Mahathir had told him: "You start work tomorrow."
Mr Shukri said he initially wanted to turn down the offer.
"Spontaneously, I apologetically told him that I will accept the job on one condition, I will serve MACC for only one year," Mr Shukri said.
He said he came out of retirement to only solve two issues.
He first wanted to complete investigations into 1MDB and its then subsidiary SRC International. The probe implicated former premier and finance minister Najib Razak.
Second, Mr Shukri said, he wanted to solve internal issues within the MACC due to differences among the officers.
"I set a one-year condition because I was convinced that I could solve these two issues in six months to a year," he said.
Najib's court trial is ongoing related to seven charges - comprising alleged abuse of position, criminal breach of trust, money laundering - involving the transfer of RM42 million (S$13.8 million) from SRC International into his personal bank accounts.
He has also facing charges related to 1MDB.
Mr Shukri voiced his confidence in his successor Ms Latheefa, and asked for the public to support her.
"Stop membawang (gossiping) and give Latheefa Koya a chance," he said.
"Whether she is independent or not, we will see," Mr Shukri said. "But give her a chance, I trust she will do the best for the MACC and for our country."
Ms Latheefa's appointment has raised the question on whether this was a political appointment that PH had promised step away from.
An activist lawyer, Ms Latheefa, 46, was a prominent member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), a member of the ruling PH alliance. She quit PKR only after being appointed the MACC chief commissioner.
Dr Mahathir has said that he did not discuss his intention to appoint Ms Latheefa with his Cabinet colleagues.
Her appointment also raised a ruckus in PH, as Ms Latheefa belonged to a PKR faction aligned to the party's deputy president Azmin Ali, who is at loggerheads with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.
Datuk Seri Anwar has said that the government must clarify why Ms Latheefa was appointed.
PM Mahathir, asked by reporters on Saturday in Kedah to clarify her appointment, said: "What clarification? I have appointed many people and many officers and she (Latheefa) is one of the officers.
"The appointment is final and the decision has already been made."
Asked whether there would be any changes to the post of MACC chief, Dr Mahathir said: "It is final and will not change. I don't want to be criticised again and labelled a 'U-turn' leader."
Dr Mahathir's government has been criticised for making several plans but later making a U-turn, such as an electoral promise to abolish toll collection at highways, and backtracking from signing a United Nations convention against discrimination called ICERD.