[Exclusive] 'Ex-cm did not sneak out of country'

Mohd Azam Shah Yaacob, Beatrice Nita Jay

FORMER Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, who has been “wanted” by the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for the past three months, never left the country through illegal channels. The New Straits Times has learnt that contrary to what had been suggested and the accounts of authorities, Musa did not sneak out of the country through Brunei. His exiting the country was a straight-forward affair despite authorities having suggested otherwise supposedly because his name was blacklisted by the Immigration Department and that “there were no record of him leaving the country”.

A man resembling Tan Sri Musa Aman (with cap) at St Pancras railway station in London recently.

If a captioned image of him, supposedly at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport leaving for Kuala Lumpur on May 14 is genuine, it would have been a day of plane-hopping for Musa. Records showed that Musa subsequently left for Brunei via Subang Airport on a private plane the same day. He left for London from the country, a highly placed source privy to Musa’s passport told NST. Musa, through his counsel, has maintained that he never left the country illegally. “At the time Musa left the country, he was not yet a ‘wanted’ man,” said a member of the team managing his return at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang on Tuesday. Musa’s last point of disembarkation was Seletar, Singapore. Musa arrived from the United Kingdom where he sought treatment. To the question, “why did the authorities suggest that Musa had breached the country’s Immigration law, when the May 14 Immigration records showed otherwise”, the source said: “It was a tactical manoeuvre”. The reson behind this is known only to the authorities, but they would not divulge more. Immigration chief Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said Musa and the other passengers of the aircraft underwent Immigration checks, which were concluded at 7pm. He had said Musa could not present himself to the Immigration counter due to health reasons, but that their travel papers had been checked and recorded in the Immigration Department’s computer system. The Immigration Department proceeded to notify the police and MACC of his return. Musa became the focus of the authorities just five days after he left the country. This was after Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin lodged a report against him on May 19 over alleged criminal intimidation in relation to his swearing-in as chief minister on May 10. Police had wanted Musa to present himself to have his statement recorded. Musa was supposedly spotted once in London — at St Pancras railway station. Just before news of his return spread, his political secretary, Mohd Joh Wid, shared a photo of the Sungai Sibuga assemblyman in a hospital gown and lying on a stretcher on Facebook. It came with a caption saying Musa had decided to return against the advice of the doctor at The Clementine Churchill Hospital in London and that he must first be referred to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for follow-up treatments. Musa is wanted by MACC, but the NST cannot independently establish if this is in relation to his alleged attempt to buy off Sabah assemblymen or a claim concerning land deals allegedly involving him that was submitted to the commission.

Tan Sri Musa Aman (centre) boarding a flight for Kuala Lumpur at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on May 14. FILE PIC

As at press time, Musa is in a tightly-guarded VIP suite at a private hospital in Petaling Jaya. His visitors, about 20 of them and counting, were tight-lipped. Among them was lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad, who said he was “merely visiting a friend”, when asked if he would represent Musa in his cases. The NST also learnt that
MACC would give way to the police before taking its turn with Musa. Attempts to get Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Fuzi Harun or his senior officers to confirm if Musa was in police custody were futile. Fuzi had, on July 11, said that Musa had been put on the wanted list and police had submitted a Red Notice to the Interpol. Last night in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah police commissioner Datuk Ramli Din was quoted as saying that police would give Musa “time to recover, on humanitarian grounds, before visiting him”. However, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman said Musa needed to go through the police standard operating procedures when undergoing treatment in Kuala Lumpur. He was quoted by news portals as saying that SOP required Musa to get treatment at a government hospital as confirmation of his medical condition, for the purpose of investigation, should be from a government doctor. “No one is above the law and I believe the police will carry out their probe properly and complete the investigation paper in the near future.” Additional reporting by Avila Geraldine and Veena Babulal © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd