PUTRAJAYA: Newly appointed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull broke down when he recounted his time running away from Malaysian authorities to the United States.
This came in 2015 after his former boss Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed at the MACC decided to indict former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over the RM2.6bil that was found in his personal bank account.
Shukri said that the commission had well-founded basis to initiate an investigation into SRC International, a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which had been accused of transferring millions of ringgit into Najib’s private account.
According to Shukri, Abu Kassim asked him whether he was ready for the consequences of indicting a sitting prime minister, which could have led to their dismissal.
“I said ‘no problem’, because I was willing to do it for the country,” Shukri told a press conference at the MACC headquarters here on Tuesday.
However, on the day in July 2015 when Abu Kassim was going to do indict Najib, former Attorney-General Gani Patail was removed from his position.
The announcement came along with the reshuffling of the Cabinet that also saw the sacking of the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who had also raised questions about 1MDB.
With all these sackings foremost in his mind, Shukri left for Washington on July 31, 2015, to bring up the 1MDB issue with US authorities.
Wary, he released misleading information that he was headed to Saudi Arabia, and he heard that people were waiting to arrest him in Jeddah.
Shukri said that before he left for Washington, he faced tremendous pressure.
“The witnesses I interviewed had been taken away.
“I was threatened to be fired, was told to retire early and was even threatened to be sent to the training division,” he said.
The trip to Washington had its own drama.
“I noticed someone was following me (in Washington). My team in the United States took pictures of the man who was following me.
“I sent the pictures to MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki, and asked him to send it to the then Inspector-General Police,” he said, adding that he made it clear that he knew that men were following him.
Shukri said he felt unsafe in Washington and decided to go to New York, where he met up with a friend who worked in the New York Police Department (NYPD).
“I got protection from the NYPD and they provided me with three bodyguards,” he said.
Shukri said he then returned to Washington.
It was in recounting this episode during his Tuesday press conference that Shukri broke down in tears, saying he felt guilty when he was told that his men who were working for him had been incarcerated.
“I felt helpless and was frustrated for failing to protect my men.
“I cried in front of the mat salleh (Caucasians). My men and I had been accused of conspiring to topple the (Barisan Nasional) government,” he said.
Shukri finally retired in August 2016 at the age of 56. During his farewell speech, he hit out at an "individual" who had alleged that he was involved in a conspiracy to topple Najib and his administration.
Abu Kassim, who was appointed MACC chief in 2010, was also replaced by Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad in 2016.
Shukri served at the anti-graft body for 32 years before he retired. He first joined the then Anti-Corruption Agency in 1984 as investigations officer after graduating from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
He rose up the ranks and served as ACA director in Perlis, Kelantan and Sabah.
Upon his return to the headquarters in July 2006, he was promoted to the post of assistant investigations director and two months later, was promoted yet again to be the director of investigations.
In 2010, he took on the position of MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations), which he held till his retirement.
Pakatan Harapan appointed Shukri to head the MACC when it took over Putrajaya after GE14.
He clocked in for work at 10.29am on Monday (May 21), having received his appointment letter just about an hour before reporting for duty.
This story was amended to correct some dates.
MACC chief: 'Questionable' Saudi prince failed to show proof of RM2.6bil donation