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'Anwar directed me to get retractions'

Thursday, November 5, 1998

By Ruslaini Abbas and Carolyn Hong

KUALA LUMPUR, Wed. - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had asked the police to "put a little fear" into two people to get them to retract allegations of sexual misconduct against him, outgoing Special Branch director Datuk Mohd Said Awang told the High Court today.

The two were Ummi Hafilda Ali, who had written a letter entitled "Perihal Salah Laku Timbalan Perdana Menteri" (The matter of DPM's misconduct) containing the allegations, and Azizan Abu Bakar who had given a sworn statement.

Ummi Hafilda is the sister of Anwar's former private secretary, Mohamad Azmin Ali, and Azizan is his former driver.

Mohd Said said Anwar had given them directions on Aug 13 last year to gempar (to surprise and put a little fear in) them, after police had failed to trace them the day before.

Anwar was also told that the letter had been given to Datuk Seri Megat Junid Megat Ayob (then deputy Home Minister) through his wife, and passed to the Inspector-General of Police.

Ummi Hafilda and Azizan were arrested on Aug 17. However, Anwar told Mohd Said he did not want them to be detained for too long as all he wanted was for them to withdraw in writing their allegations in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister.

Speaking in English, Mohd Said said the operation to get the retractions from them was codenamed "Turning Over" - to change the stand of a person - but added that the method adopted was a "trade secret".

Mohd Said is the prosecution's first witness in the trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar who is facing four charges of corrupt practices.

Anwar, 51, is charged with using his positions to protect himself from criminal proceedings, by directing Mohd Said and Amir Junus (Special Branch deputy director II), to obtain statements from Ummi Hafilda and Azizan to deny his sexual misconduct.

Mohd Said is now on leave prior to retirement on Nov 17.

The day after their arrests, Mohd Said said Ummi Hafilda and Azizan had been "turned over" and were willing to withdraw their allegations. He said Anwar directed him to get the two to write the letters.

"DSP Aziz (Hussin) and ACP Mazlan (Mohd Din) (his officers) told me that after interviewing the two, they concluded that there was some basis in the allegations but despite that, I told them to proceed to 'neutralise' them because the directive was from the DPM," he said.

On the same day, Mohd Said said Anwar was given letters written by Ummi Hafilda and Azizan retracting the allegations.

"He read both letters and in as far as Azizan's letter, he was satisfied but he was not very pleased with Ummi Hafilda's letter," he said.

A week later, on Aug 27, Anwar told them to get another letter each from Ummi Hafilda and Azizan.

"He wanted the letters from Ummi Hafilda and Azizan to fully declare that he was not involved in any sex scandal. He wanted the letters to be an open letter without being addressed to anybody," he said.

He said he obeyed Anwar's directives "because he was Deputy Prime Minister".

Mohd Said, who began giving testimony yesterday, was also cross-examined by defence counsel Christopher Fernando.

To Fernando's questions, he agreed it was possible that he had earlier testified that "we" (meaning he and Anwar) did not believe the allegations in the letter.

He agreed that it was in this context that Anwar asked him to investigate "deeply".

He agreed when Fernando put it to him that a "deep investigation" meant to investigate every aspect of the matter and from all angles.

Today's hearing also saw some excitement and whispers in the gallery when Ummi Hafilda and Azizan were brought in for identification in the morning.

In the afternoon, it was a fiery exchange of words between the judge and defence counsel Gurbachan Singh. It began when Gurbachan objected to a prosecution question which required Mohd Said to say Anwar had given directives to him.

The judge wanted to record the answer before making a decision to strike it out while Gurbachan did not want the answer to be given.

Verbal blows flew as the judge berated counsel for jumping the gun and the lawyer accused the judge of being rude. The judge threatened to send Gurbachan out but did not.

Anwar was seen taking notes in the dock. After court adjourned, he left the dock and joked with his family. He was also allowed by police to sit at the counsel's table to meet his lawyers for 20 minutes.

Anwar faces one more charge of corrupt practice and five for sodomy, for which hearing dates have not been fixed.