Sabah chief admits ties with Amalilio

By Jarius Bondoc, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 04 2013 09:08 AM | Updated as of Feb 04 2013 05:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Musa Aman, the chief minister of Sabah, admitted last night his kinship with fugitive conman Manuel Karingal Amalilio, who is wanted in the Philippines for duping 15,000 people in a Ponzi scheme.

The terse admission was flashed on Malaysian newsblogs, including the Malaysian Insider.

But Musa denied that he blocked Amalilio’s repatriation the other Friday by Philippine lawmen.

Musa claimed he learned only recently about his family ties to Amalilio, whom he described as a “distant relative,” the Insiderreported.

“I have a large family and I have just recently been informed that this individual is a distant relative,” Musa said. “Whether or not Amalilio is a relative, the authorities should investigate the matter and take the necessary action.”

Musa is under fire from Malaysian federal parliamentarians for blocking at the last minute Amalilio’s repatriation from Sabah to Manila the other Friday.

The STAR earlier reported that Amalilio is Musa’s nephew. Malaysia’s opposition head Anwar Ibrahim confirmed: “Yes, his mother is Musa’s first cousin. Amalilio’s real name is Kamal bin Said, born in Beaufort, Sabah.”

“The mother is Zubaidah Omar, cousin of Chief Minister Musa Aman,” Anwar detailed. “Haji Aman (Musa’s father) and Haji Omar (Zubaidah’s father) are brothers.”

In scamming Filipinos, Amalilio sometimes went by his alias Mohammad Sufian Said.

One hazy reason given by Sabah airport police to stop Philippine lawmen, at the last minute, from flying Amalilio to Manila is that he is a protected Malaysian national. “Amalilio is married to a Filipina, and holds a Philippine passport,” Anwar said.

Amalilio, who is facing thousands of lawsuits in the Visayas and Mindanao, fled to Sabah last November when President Aquino ordered his arrest. Malaysian Interpol nabbed him the other week, and promptly informed the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation.

At the Sabah airport, however, policemen retook Amalilio ten minutes before the flight. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who helped the 15,000 Filipino victims bring charges against Amalilio, said no less than Chief Minister Musa blocked the repatriation.

Musa claimed he learned of Amalilio’s arrest only through news reports that he had stopped his kinsman’s deportation to Manila.

“Let me make it very clear that the Sabah State Government did not and will not intervene in this matter,” Musa said. “This is a police and Interpol matter.”

He stressed that no one is above the law and called for the due process of the law to take its course. He said he hoped both countries will cooperate to resolve the matter quickly.

Manila and Kuala Lumpur have no extradition pact. President Aquino has directed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, and Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Ed Malay to work out the repatriation.

In so doing, they will be dealing with Malaysian counterparts, among them Musa as the highest official in Sabah, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, and Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail.

Musa is the elder brother of Anifah. Patail, who also hails from Sabah, is their close kin. Thus all three, close associates and party mates of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, are related to Amalilio.