Civil society groups call for independent inquiry into Azam’s shares purchase

SITI NURFATIHAH PIRDAUS
SITI NURFATIHAH PIRDAUS
23 Jan 2022 05:44pm
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki - BERNAMA PIC
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki - BERNAMA PIC
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SHAH ALAM - Seven civil society organisations have urged for action to be taken against Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki, if he was found to have breached a government circular.

The group had in a joint statement, today, said the Securities Commission (SC) had stated that the shares trading account managed by the anti-graft chief himself, contradicted his previous press statement saying that his account was used by his brother to avoid conflict of interest, in 2015.

If this was true, they said Azam who was the MACC investigation director at the material time, had purchased shares above RM100,000, which is against the government’s rules.

"It is important that the government clarify the appropriate agency that is responsible for apprehending civil servants who have acted in contravention of a government circular, whether it is the Public Services Commission or the Public Services Department," they said in the statement.

The group which comprised the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Transparency International Malaysia, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), Rasuah Busters, Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia and Undi 18, have called for an independent inquiry into Azam’s purchase of shares.

This, they said was because the issue has raised serious questions regarding any conflict of interest that occurred in the purchase of the shares which involved the highest-ranking member of the anti-corruption body.

They had also called for proper procedures to be put in place in the future, so that there would be greater clarity over which government body is responsible to monitor the adherence to such rules.

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In order to uphold MACC's integrity and to restore public trust in the anti-graft agency, they said Azam must temporarily step aside until an independent inquiry can prove beyond reasonable doubt, that he did not breach any regulations as a bearer of public office.

"We repeat the call for an independent inquiry into Azam’s purchase of shares as the conflict of interest that occurred were becoming concerning," they said.

They added that the 2015 proposal recommendations made by IDEAS, the Malaysian Bar, C4 and Transparency International Malaysia to reform MACC and make it more independent in addition to implementing the National Anti-Corruption Plan, must be placed front and centre.

This, the group explained was only to improve the capabilities of MACC but also to prevent such detrimental incidents like Azam’s ongoing case from occurring again in the future.