Explain clearing Azam of wrongdoing, or resign, Abu Zahar told

Topics:  MACC IndependencePolitical Corruption & Conflict of InterestGood Governance & Anti-Corruption
Related news: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/01/08/explain-clearing-azam-of-wrongdoing-or-resign-bersih-tells-abu-zahar/
Coverage by: Free Malaysia Today

Bersih has called for Abu Zahar Ujang to resign as chairman of the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) if he fails to explain his decision to single-handedly clear top graft buster Azam Baki over his corporate shares ownership issue.

This follows the revelation earlier today by six members of ACAB, an advisory panel in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), that Abu Zahar’s comments at a press conference last Wednesday on the MACC chief commissioner. were entirely his personal view.

Bersih chairman Thomas Fann demanded Abu Zahar’s resignation saying that he had misrepresented the recommendations of the board members.

“Unfortunately, Abu Zahar, for reasons best known to himself, chose to whitewash the issue. He must therefore explain himself, failing which he should resign,” he told FMT.

Thomas Fann.

Meanwhile, Aliran president Anil Netto told FMT that the statement issued by the six board members indicated that the “MACC ship is cracking and water is gushing in”.

“If it is true what they (board members) said, then the chairman has some serious explaining to do,” he said. He also demanded that the board members explain their delayed response on the matter.

He urged the government to listen to what civil society has been calling for, that is to set up an impartial and independent committee to investigate the revelations made by whistleblower Lalitha Kunaratnam on Azam’s alleged wrongdoings.

“Don’t just investigate Azam, but also other active and retired MACC officers guilty of similar offences,” Netto said.

Anil Netto.

He also called for Azam to withdraw his letter of demand filed against Lalitha two days ago.

He recommended that the anti-graft agency be revamped and removed from being placed under the Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) and instead be parked under Parliament, where it could be answerable to a bipartisan parliamentary select committee.

Cynthia Gabriel, the executive director of Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) told FMT that the board members’ statement strengthened C4’s earlier call for an independent probe to be carried out urgently into Azam.

The board members’ statement also invited a response from PKR MP Fahmi Fadzil, who called for Abu Zahar to explain himself, or resign immediately.

“It is clear that he no longer has the moral right to be the ACAB chairman. The statement by these six board members is a rebuke of his credibility, as well as a form of a no-confidence vote against him,” he said in a Facebook post.

The six advisory board members who issued the joint statement were Akhbar Satar, Ismail Omar, Azman Ujang, Hamzah Kassim, David Chua Kok Tee and Mohammad Agus Yusoff.

In their statement, the six ACAB members said prior to last Wednesday’s press conference, they had a separate discussion with Abu Zahar and proposed the matter to be further referred to an independent committee, the Parliamentary Special Committee on Corruption, or the anti-graft agency’s Complaints Panel.

However, they said their views and proposals were not raised by Abu Zahar.

“We categorically wish to state that the board members at the meeting, or at any time thereafter, did not express such opinion as Abu Zahar attributed to,” they said in a statement.

They added that ACAB had no investigation power as it was established only as an advisory board.

“We need to provide this clarification in order to safeguard the integrity of the board and the institution,” they said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, during a visit to Sabah, said he was closely monitoring the matter.

He said investigations were being carried out by various parties, including the Securities Commission and MACC, and that all parties should wait for the investigations to be completed.

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