EXCLUSIVE: Azam says he followed protocol - board first
SHAH ALAM: Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki has spoken out against criticism that he was slow to response to allegations that he owned multiple shares in various companies and controlled them.
He said the first course of action following these claims were to present himself to the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board and explain to them in detail on the issue.
"I responded to the board first, that's the protocol. I explained to them and it is up to them on what they want to do next.
"If their decision is to refer me to another agency for further investigations, I have no issues about it.
"As a chief commissioner or senior government official, we do not simply follow other people's demands, especially those with specific political agendas," he told Sinar Daily exclusively yesterday.
The board, one of the five independent monitoring bodies of the MACC, found no criminal conduct or conflict of interest involving Azam in share trading done in 2015.
Its chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang said the board in a special meeting on Nov 24 last year had sought Azam's explanation over the matter, and the latter explained that his share trading account was used by his brother, Nasir Baki, to purchase the shares involved.
Commenting further, Azam said he was not a politician but only a senior civil servant thus he had many other things to work on.
He said he did not need to respond to the public as people will think he did not have anything else better to do.
"This is why the correct time and place mattered when providing the response on the issue," he said.
Prior to this, allegations of Azam having interests and shareholding in several companies had gone viral on social media following reports by anti-corruption activist, Lalitha Kunaratnam.
In a special press conference on Jan 5, Azam told media members that he had no interest or benefits in the shares purchased.
Azam had said the shares were bought through the open market by his brother using his own funds, and the shares of companies acquired by his brother had nothing to do with the MACC's investigation.
“I would like to stress that in this share purchase issue, I have not committed any wrongdoing, and the allegation that there is a ‘conflict of interest’ on my part as alleged by some parties is unfounded,” he said.
Azam had also said he will take legal action on those who had defamed over the issue.
The next day, Lalitha, whose articles were carried by the Independent News Service, received a Letter of Demand.
She was asked to issue a public apology within 14 days, delete the articles about Azam and pay RM10 million in damages for tarnishing his reputation.
Abu Zahar was quoted saying that the issue was prematurely raised by former MACC consultation and corruption prevention panel member Dr Edmund Terence Gomez.
Gomez reportedly resigned as a member of the panel, claiming that the committee had failed to discuss reports involving senior MACC officials.
In Gomez's resignation letter, which had gone viral a few weeks back, raised questions over “relationship between businesses and law enforcement” as well as the “conflict of interest” involving senior MACC officials and allegations of share ownership.