C4 calls for task force to investigate Azam Baki

Topic: MACC IndependencePolitical Corruption & Conflict of InterestGood Governance & Anti-Corruption
Related news: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/01/761068/c4-calls-task-force-investigate-azam-baki
Coverage by: New Straits Times

The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) urged the government to set up a special task force to investigate Tan Sri Azam Baki.

In a statement today, C4 said the investigation must be done transparently and the full findings of the special task force against the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief must be made public.

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob must set up a special task force composed of independent personalities to conduct an investigation into Azam Baki’s alleged wrongdoings without delay,” it said, calling for the MACC chief commissioner to be put on immediate garden leave to allow a thorough and impartial investigation to be carried out to ascertain the truth of the allegations levelled against him.

On Wednesday, Azam said his brother had bought shares using his account in 2015, while the MACC advisory board had cleared him of misconduct.

Azam said all shares had since been transferred to his brother the same year.

The anti-graft organisation added that the letter of demand (LOD) issued to independent Malaysian anti-corruption activist Lalitha Kunaratnam from Azam yesterday, must be withdrawn immediately.

“This was done in connection with her articles detailing Azam Baki’s questionable ownership of millions of shares in two public listed companies, which were published by the Independent News Services.

“Her findings, in this case, were backed by publicly accessible documents. Azam’s attempts to silence her smacks of grave intimidation and fear tactics completely unbecoming of a top graft buster.

“The exposé and Azam Baki’s hostile response serve as yet another devastating blow to the credibility of the MACC, an institution already wrecked by corruption and criminal scandals involving its officers,” it said.

C4 noted that Azam’s legal threats upon a notable anti-corruption campaigner also reiterated the huge personal risk that whistle-blowers face when exposing wrongdoings.

“It is the cruellest irony that it is Azam Baki, of all people, who should be assisting Lalitha to obtain whistle-blower protection.

“The principles of transparency and accountability espoused by MACC, have all crumbled to ashes with this tragic episode that will take trust deficits to an all-time low.

Following the matter, C4 has recommended a special committee to be set up to implement the long-overdue reforms to the structure of the MACC, in particular, an amendment of the Federal Constitution for the establishment of the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission free from executive influence.

“C4, along with the Malaysian Bar, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Transparency International Malaysia, and Citizens’ Network for a Better Malaysia, made this call in a memorandum published in 2015 at the request of the MACC,” it said.

There is also a need to set up a special committee to revamp the MACC advisory board according to C4.

“The MACC’s advisory boards and panels which have unquestionably failed in their duties to properly investigate the concerns raised by Professor Dr Edmund Terence Gomez before he resigned due to their inaction.

On Dec 27 last year, Gomez resigned from the MACC Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel over the panel’s lack of action following the allegations against Azam, which a report claimed owned close to two million shares in a public listed company.

C4 also reiterates its call for the reform of the Whistle-blower Protection Act 2010 (WPA 2010) which has continuously failed to adequately protect whistle-blowers since it came into force over a decade ago, with specific emphasis on Section 4, Section 6(1), Section 8(1) and (4), as well as Section 11.

“An amendment to Section 6(1) is especially crucial, as, in its current form, it limits whistle-blowers to reporting cases to enforcement agencies only, failing which, protection for whistle-blowers would be revoked.

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