Tan Sri Robert Phang Miow Sin is a former member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel (CCPP). He resigned from the post recently amid the graft allegations that were leveled at him following his urging for an investigation into alleged corrupt practices in Malaysia Airlines (MAS). Phang, who is also a Justice of the Peace, said his decision to pull out from CCPP was to preserve his integrity as well as that of MACC.
MD: Do you ever feel regretful of your decision to pull out of the MACC panel?
RP: This is a very soul-searching question. Very hurting question, because, after two years in MACC, I’ve made a name for myself. I criticized if it is bad, I praised if it is good. For example, the introduction of ETP, it’s a good move. It must be supported.
Regretful of pulling out? It was a very decisive decision because my intention is to walk the talk. I always profess and say, be vocal, truthful and responsible. If an allegation was made against me, I have no choice. If I had waited, people will say that Phang is going to wait and use his influence to jeopardize the case. That’s is what I don’t want. I want to stop even the suspicion, and stop the speculations. I want to walk the talk. I regret (pulling out) in the sense that, what had I done wrong? Not that I alleged the A-G on anything. I just asked him to come up with an explanation to the public.
Have you consulted anyone before resigning from your post in MACC?
My family always said that I’m a stupid guy. At 72, still wants to be busybody. You know the family’s concern, this is love. Of course they’re concerned. I told my wife, if anything happens to me, I think the public knows who to go after.
How do you feel about the A-G and MACC after what had happen?
I think the MACC is already realizing what the public wants the most. MACC is equally very concerned and the A-G, I think, should be very careful. He has a lot of allegations thrown against him too in public domain. In fairness to the A-G he has a challenging job. All in all he has to be tactful and very careful.
How would you comment on the allegation thrown at you?
I feel sad. Sad because I have been implicated. Sick as the whole society feels very sick. Sick in the sense if someone is telling the truth, you should be allowed to find out more about the truth. And it is good for the society, for the institution.
I really pray that our PM not only must be supported but he also must take note that in order for him to know he must have the real feel and not only rely on the reports from the authorities, the institution or the department. I can bet that the reports are not comprehensive enough. I think the PM needs to set up a very independent council where you can invite people from all walks of life that are courageous to speak the truth based on what is happening on the ground, and then he’ll get the real picture. Did you make further attempts to find the blogger who alleged you?
I hired a private investigator but still cannot find the blogger. The PI reported that the blog had already been traced but it’s registered under somebody else’s name. But those parts I will leave it to my lawyer to do the follow up. This is serious you know? If any anonymous blogger can issue out a statement to allege and defame someone without any truth behind it the society would be in topsy-turvy.
Do you have any suspects in mind?
I have suspects, but they’re just speculations. But that I leave to my lawyer and my PI to check. I wont give up; I want to trace them down.
What is the chance you returning as panel of MACC?
(Laughs) I have faith in the chief commissioner and the two deputies, Datuk Sukri and Datuk Haji Mustafa. I believe that they are independent and fair people. What is also in my mind, in MACC there is DPP (Deputy Public Prosecutor), the DPP is from the A-G’s office. What are the functions of DPP, we don’t know. If we were to say MACC is independent, it means every investigation has to be referred to the DPP or the MACC solely decides. Of course, for the time when you need to go for prosecution or decision for prosecution, you refer to the DPP.
So in my case, because I believe it (the allegation) is all not true, you cannot go through the investigation. Black is black, white is white once you go through the investigation. I have faith in those three panels. They are professional and also impartial. What is important is I have to be cleared first.
If I am cleared from the allegation, what we need to do is to go down to the rakyat and seek their participation to support and fight corruption. If I’m cleared, my goal is achieved. It is my commitment and principle to walk the talk. I think I should continue to fight corruption. Why shouldn’t I? But only if they want me, of course.
Who do you think would gain from the allegation made against you?
I look into two aspects. First of all, why did they do that? I already have the conclusion; they try to keep my mouth shut, to silence me. I learned a lot. The moment the investigation took place I should keep my mouth shut. Let the MACC do the necessary.
This allegation, as it is, has already garnered me followers. Look at the blogs, many people are supporting me. This is because our society thinks they need more people who have guts to speak out, to highlight what is right and what is wrong. In that respect, I think they have made me more popular. Any righteous, any social injustice, any so called truth to be highlighted, I am there.
What are your expectations for Malaysia in the fight against corruption?
I expect the rakyat to have better feedback from the events happening. I also expect people to come out and tell the truth. I hope more unnecessary pressure will be bestowed against me. Be ready to tell the truth and let god decide. No fear except to god. A word of wisdom, you can bluff anybody, but don’t bluff god. Never take god for a ride. I think that my incident is a nuisance. People need not be discouraged to tell the truth. People must support MACC in the eradication of corruption. Have no fear.
During my two years in MACC, lots of letters from the public were sent to me and MACC asking for MACC to investigate. I just want to let them know that I will forward their letters to other MACC panel for necessary action to be taken. I appeal to the government that anybody who has a personal agenda or interest to not be the commissioner of MACC because some of them are even consultants to MACC as well as to the A-G’s office. So if they sit there as a commissioner or panel advisor, how can they be independent. I also hope that Malaysian Digest can express this positively and objectively, give the true picture so the public can realize. And then I have no regrets. My resignation is absolutely necessary in the most honorable way so that people will know that I walk the talk.
Any last words Tan Sri?
Lastly, I appeal to MACC if there is investigation to be conducted, please speed it up because I’m looking forward to serve the nation with dignity, again.