Malaysia govt agency chief suspended amid graft probe

Mr Annuar, a former president of the Kelantan football team, is accused of "alleged misappropriation and misuse of powers".
Mr Annuar, a former president of the Kelantan football team, is accused of "alleged misappropriation and misuse of powers".

Mara chairman accused of forcing agency and units to sponsor Kelantan football team

KUALA LUMPUR • The controversial chairman of Mara, a key government agency that helps Malay students and small businessmen, has been suspended, and is being probed by Malaysia's anti-graft commission.

Tan Sri Annuar Musa is also information chief of the ruling Umno party, and was the head of the Kelantan Football Association.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday confirmed that an inquiry was under way into "alleged misappropriation and misuse of powers" committed by the politician.

His suspension came three weeks after the government replaced the controversial chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority, or Felda, another top agency that aids Malays, .

At Felda, politician Mohd Isa Samad was replaced after attracting controversies linked to property purchases and a plan to pay a hefty sum to buy Indonesian oil palm plantations.

With widespread expectation that the general election will be held some time this year, the MACC has been unusually busy these past few months, hauling in several top officers of government bodies for alleged corruption.

SCOPE OF PROBE

It should be noted that the MACC investigation is focused only on the issue of corruption and abuse of power involving the sponsorship of the Kelantan football team.

MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION, on the probe into allegations against Tan Sri Annuar Musa.

Mara is the Malay acronym for People's Trust Council, an agency under the Rural and Regional Development Ministry that helps bumiputera - Malays and other indigenous races - fund their educational needs and start small businesses.

Mr Annuar was also suspended from heading Mara's investment unit PMB.

In a statement issued yesterday, MACC said it would cooperate with Mara's internal audit department to investigate the allegations against Mr Annuar. "It should be noted that the MACC investigation is focused only on the issue of corruption and abuse of power involving the sponsorship of the Kelantan football team," it said.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Annuar was unexpectedly suspended as Mara chairman with immediate effect.

Mara council member Yusof Yacob said after an emergency meeting of the board of directors that Mr Annuar was also suspended as the head of PMB. "This is a unanimous decision, with approval from the minister," said Datuk Yusof, referring to Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Mr Annuar said in a statement: "I had no idea about this meeting and I was also not informed of the issues surrounding my suspension. I was also never asked to explain myself before the Mara council or the minister in charge."

The issue arose after the Johor Crown Prince recently accused a certain "Tan Sri" of forcing Mara and its entities to sponsor the Kelantan Football Association.

In a Facebook post on Jan 12, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim published photographs of documents allegedly showing a RM500,000 (S$160,000) sponsorship by Universiti Kuala Lumpur, a Mara-owned university, and an additional RM200,000 by Mara's PMB unit.

Although he did not mention any names, it was an apparent reference to Mr Annuar, who is a former president of the Kelantan football team.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysia govt agency chief suspended amid graft probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe