Over a hundred supporters gathered at the Kuala Lumpur Internation Airport to welcome suspended Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) chairperson Annuar Musa upon his return from New Zealand tonight.

Clad in red shirts and holding up banners, the group prayed together with Annuar when he arrived at the airport’s international arrival hall, and then filled the airport with loud chants of ‘Allahuakhbar!’ (God is Great!).

Annuar had just arrived from the flight MH130 from Auckland, which landed nearly an hour behind schedule. It was over 11 hours since his flight had taken off by the time he reached the arrival hall at 9.50pm.

Speaking to reporters after greeting his supporters, Annuar urged his supporters to remain calm and allow due process to take place.

He stressed that it was he himself who offered to be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). He said there was no one to blame for his current predicament.

“This is the people’s interest. This issue has become a high-profile issue. The people want to know, and I take full responsibility.

“Don’t blame anyone. Don’t blame the minister, don’t blame the (Mara) councillors. They are performing their respective duties, and we have to respect that,” the Ketereh MP said.

He said although there was initial confusion on whether the Mara council had suspended him or ordered him to take leave, the bottom line was that he must step down from his official duties to facilitate investigations.

He said this was in line with his own wishes, and he accepted the decision with an open heart.

Mara had held its emergency board meeting on Jan 31, where it decided to suspend Annuar as Mara chairperson and Pelaburan Mara Berhad (PMB) chairperson.

Annuar said his priority after his return to Malaysia was to meet the MACC, which he would do at 8am tomorrow. He said he was prepared to accept any finding from MACC.

Asked if this was how he intended to prove his innocence, Annuar said he was not in a position to do so since there was yet to be an investigation.

“Of course we would want to defend ourselves and say we are innocent. I would just want to offer myself, and the MACC have their methods. They have questions to ask, documents to look for, and so on. The MACC have their way; we have to respect that and I don’t want people accusing (me) of being in denial.

“I’m just saying that I would cooperate and give whatever information necessary. Guilty or not, that’s not up to me. I surrender myself wholeheartedly to the MACC,” he said.

As for his position as Umno information chief, Annuar thanked party president Najib Abdul Razak for stating that Annuar would retain his post.

However, he said he would discuss the matter with Najib after meeting MACC, and would seek to do so tomorrow after his questioning.

To a question whether Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should also resign over the debacle, Annuar said there was no need to do so.

“No need. No need. Why so? Ismail has his own duties and his own work, and he tries to do his best. Don’t put the blame on him,” he said.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar had called for Ismail’s resignation, for supposedly neglecting his duties. Ismail’s ministry oversees Mara.

Annuar was suspended over allegation that Mara subsidiaries Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) and PMB had provided sponsorships for the Kelantan state football team, which Annuar is linked to.

This allegation was first raised by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim on Jan 12, who questioned whether this was the reason why Mara reduced its scholarships by RM700 million last year.

However his supporters would contend that the allegations were slander, and made their opinions heard through the banners they held at the airport.

“The slander against Annuar Musa is a conspiracy,” one banner read. Another urged him, “Not one step back,” in the Kelantanese dialect.

– M’kini