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Azalina prepared to be called by MACC

KUALA LUMPUR, 12 March 2009: Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said she was prepared to fully cooperate with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over allegations of money politics and abuse of power in her ministry.

“But so far, I’ve not been called by the authority concerned (MACC) to give my statement and I’m not sure whether I will be called or not,” she said when met by reporters at her office in Menara Datuk Onn today.

The reporters had waited at her office since 9am to get her comments on MACC’s surprise operation at the ministry yesterday where it took away files and documents, and questioned a number of ministry officials.

Azalina who was met after attending a meeting at her office, appeared calm when answering questions from reporters.

When asked on the number of officials questioned by MACC and the documents seized, Azalina said she did not know. “I only knew about the raid from my officers and newspaper reports,” she added.

Azalina said she respected and had confidence in MACC as a professional agency and that it was only carrying out its duty.

She said she did not know why her ministry was being investigated, why the officials were questioned and what the MACC officers were looking for.

“But I believe a person is innocent until proven guilty,” she added.

She, however, dismissed the possibility of a third party trying to tarnish her image and reputation in the run-up to the coming Umno general assembly-cum-elections.

Azalina, who is a party supreme council member, is seeking to retain her seat in the council.

Earlier, MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said no more arrests of senior officials would be made over alleged money politics and abuse of power in the giving of projects under the Tourism Ministry.

He, however, declined when contacted today, to elaborate on the case.

He also urged the media and public not to believe and spread rumours in connection with the case as this could jeopardise the MACC’s investigation.

Last week, two of Azalina’s officers, including her political secretary, were arrested and their statements taken by MACC before they were released.

During the arrest, MAAC officers found RM70,000 in the political secretary’s car.  The money was believed to be for distribution to Federal Territory Umno delegates.

Asked on MAAC’s three-hour operation at the ministry’s office yesterday, Ahmad Said said it was normal investigation procedure.

He said all those questioned gave their cooperation and also provided the documents requested by MACC. — Bernama


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