Special Affairs Department strategic communications director Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz said the accusation was made by retired Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who said Puad's statements could threaten, insult and harm witnesses in the RCI into Malaysia's foreign exchange (forex) losses in the 1990s. NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Claims that Umno supreme council member Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi's statements on former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) assistant governor Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop's testimony could affect the witnesses of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) were seen as "strange and funny".

Special Affairs Department strategic communications director Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz said the accusation was made by retired Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who said Puad's statements could threaten, insult and harm witnesses in the RCI into Malaysia's foreign exchange (forex) losses in the 1990s.

Faisal said Puad was merely asking questions, which did not harm to the witnesses.

"How is it that Puad's statement can threaten, offend and injure the witness?

"But at least Sri Ram knows that Puad's comments are not an insult under Section 14 of the Commission's investigation Act of 1950," said Faisal in a statement today.

Faisal defended Puad saying that the latter was just giving his opinion based on Nor Mohamed's own testimony, which suggested that he was wiling to be the scapegoat in the scandal.

"Nor Mohamed himself said he took responsibility for the huge losses, but denied that decisions regarding the central bank’s forex in the 1990s were decided solely by him.

"This means that there were others involved. Who are the others? Did he mean BNM's (then) governor?," said Faisal who was quoting Puad.

Faisal said Puad was questioning who had the authourity to give the directive to Nor Mohamed, a manager in BNM, to trade more than its daily limit, amounting to US$1 billion a day, as claimed by a witness and current forex department manager, Azman Mat Ali.

"Since when questions from the public can threaten or injure a witness?

"It is Nor Mohamed's attitude that would actually put him in danger especially after more witnesses give their statements including former finance minister (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim.

"Doesn't all the statements by the witnesses go against Nor Mohamed," asked Faisal.

The RCI has called 21 witnesses to the stand since it commenced hearing on Aug 21.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V has given the RCI until Oct 13 to complete its proceedings and submit a report.