KUALA LUMPUR: A highly-anticipated 15-minute teleconference between Malaysian media and Sirul Azhar Umar failed to materialise, resulting in awkwardness for the host, PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar.
The teleconference, which was supposed to take place at 11.30am Monday at PAS headquarters here, was delayed for about 45 minutes when 15 attempts to call the former police commando failed.
Mahfuz said he had sent a text message to Sirul at 10.44am to alert him that he would be calling for the teleconference via a different number.
“He responded with, ‘Okay, Datuk’,” said the Pokok Sena MP, before giving up on trying to reach Sirul.
Mahfuz also showed the text of the prior conversation between him and Sirul to the press as proof that they were in contact.
“I apologise for the inconvenience caused. The line might have been congested,” he said.
Earlier, while waiting for the phone call to go through, Mahfuz was grilled by some reporters as to why he wanted to be “involved” by seemingly advocating Sirul in the high profile murder case of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“I’m not trying to meddle but this case has received worldwide attention and we would like to know the motive behind the killing.
“In 2009, Sirul also admitted that he was merely a scapegoat and he was only carrying out his duty after receiving an order,” he said.
Mahfuz was further pressed by several reporters whether the man at the end of the line would be Sirul, as there was no visual.
“That’s up to you to decide, but for me as someone who has been in contact with him, I know for a fact that it will be him,” he said.
Mahfuz also denied influencing Sirul into giving a teleconference, saying that Sirul was willing to speak to the media on his own accord.
He also claimed that he was not privy to what Sirul would say to the press.
“He has spoken to news portal Malaysiakini before, we just thought that it would be fair for the rest of the media to have a chance to speak to him too,” he said.
Sirul, 43, was reported to have been in Australia since November and was detained in Brisbane last month is now being held at the immigration detention centre in Sydney.
He had failed to appear in the Federal Court which sentenced him and former chief inspector Azilah Hadri, 38, to death for the October 2006 murder of Altantuya, then 26.
Mahfuz has been in contact with Sirul since he offered himself as a confidant following allegations by Sirul’s mother that his son was just carrying out his duty as instructed.Ending the press conference, Mahfuz said he would be flying to Sydney with Sirul’s family members next week and the details would be made known to the press on Friday.