Leaked Chats Show Maszlee Did Not at First Turn Down Mara Adviser’s Post

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Act of rejecting post a “U-turn”.

Former education minister Maszlee Malik did not object to an offer by the Perikatan Nasional government to make him the chairman of a new advisory panel for Mara Corp, the commercial arm of the government’s Bumiputera powerhouse Mara, leaked exchanges on WhatsApp have revealed.

Screenshots and transcripts of WhatsApp exchanges between the Simpang Renggam MP and Rural Development Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad were shared on Facebook by Malay politics commentator Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, who described Maszlee’s act of rejecting the post as a “U-turn”.

In a group chat with members of the newly set-up advisory committee for Mara Corp on April 27, Latiff introduced Maszlee as its chairman.

“Assalamualaykom and thank you. It’s an honour to be with team,” Maszlee wrote in the transcript shared by Kamarul.

Latiff: Welcome dear Chairman

Latiff: Let u all know each other

Maszlee: Am following

Maszlee: And trying to grasp all the docs given

At this point, one of the members asked if there could be more details on the number of companies and enterprises assisted by Mara which have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Maszlee: Agree. Most of the concerns are valid after I’ve gone through again the MCT. Shah’s article should be taken seriously too. The idea of inculcating Islamic instruments to enhance the investment and corporate growth is another interesting one, although the waqf idea might invite some discussions. YBM, any plan to have our own Mara Corp Islamic investment advisory dept akin to the banks?

Maszlee did not respond to FMT when contacted. However, Latiff confirmed that the WhatsApp conversation with Maszlee did take place.

On May 8, Latiff made Maszlee’s appointment public, saying it was aimed at strengthening the management structure of the corporation and monitoring its rationalisation programmes.

But Maszlee, who aligned himself with Dr Mahathir Mohamad following a split in PPBM, turned down the post the following day, saying his decision was in line with the mandate given to him by his voters.

In separate chats with Latiff, Maszlee explained the reasons for rejecting the post.

“I am sorry Dato Seri, I have to reject the offer when I see the corrupt returning, it goes against our promise that those who are corrupt will not return. I cannot bear to see my name along with those whose corruption I cleaned while in KPM (education ministry),” said Maszlee in one message sighted by FMT.

Latiff, however, shot back, asking Maszlee if he felt he was “clean” himself, adding that he should have lodged reports if there was evidence of corruption in the education ministry.

“Hello bro, I have all the phone recordings between you and somebody ‘important’ in PPBM, you are supporting TM (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad). This is just an excuse,” he told Maszlee.

He added that Muhyiddin Yassin had not offered posts to those facing corruption charges, and that the prime minister had been more forgiving.

He also reminded Maszlee that Mahathir was the one who had fired him.

Maszlee resigned as education minister in January, saying he was told to vacate the post by Mahathir.

In the chat, Latiff also expressed regret that Maszlee had not informed him of his decision to reject the offer.

“I think I am losing a dear friend,” he said. – FMT