18th January 2022
If Azam Baki is not prepared to appear before the Parliamentary Select Committee in January itself, he should resign or go on leave immediately because he cannot be an example of integrity in public service.
Parliament enacted the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) 2009 with two specific objectives: firstly, to promote the integrity and accountability of public and private sector administration by constituting an independent and accountable anti-corruption body; and secondly, to educate public authorities, public officials and members of the public about corruption and its detrimental effects on public and private sector administration and on the community.
If the MACC Chief Commissioner cannot be a public example of integrity and accountability in the public service, then the basic purpose of the MACC Act is being defeated.
When Parliament debated the MACC Bill in 2009, the last thing Members of Parliament expected was that the chief threat to legitimacy and credibility of the MACC would come from the MACC Chief Commissioner himself!
We seem to be in the tragic situation of having a fox guarding the hen house.
This is why Azam should resign or go on leave immediately unless he is prepared to appear before the Parliamentary Select Committee to clear himself of the serious conflict-of-interest allegations.
That Azam has filed a defamation suit does not preclude the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department from conducting a hearing on Azam’s integrity and accountability because the court and the parliamentary proceedings deal with different questions- the former on whether he had been defamed and the latter on whether he has the integrity and accountability to lead the MACC.
In fact, Azam should withdraw his defamation suit as his legal action against a whistleblower is a major negative point against him for having the integrity and accountability to lead the MACC.
Is Azam aware that in refusing to appear before the Parliamentary Select Committee, he will get the infamy of being the worst head of the anti-corruption agency in Malaysia’s history?
The Public Accounts Committee Chairman Wong Kah Woh is right in that the Parliamentary Special Select Committees should be held publicly and in the presence of the media – as is the practice all over the world in countries which cherish the objectives of open government, accountability and transparency.
The Speaker, Azhar Azizan Harun, should enable this at the Special Session of Parliament on Thursday so that all parliamentary select committees could hold their hearings in public and in the presence of media after this Thursday.
I am very disappointed with the reasons which the Speaker had given to justify the practice of the parliamentary select committees continuing their closed-door proceedings, that it was to preserve the integrity of such proceedings and to ensure complete cooperation from everyone involved.
This is not the thinking of a reform Speaker and unless Azhar is prepared to change his views, he cannot be a reform Speaker.
Time is running out for Azam Baki.
If Azam is not prepared to appear before the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department to clear himself of the conflict-of-interest allegations in January, a motion should be moved in the next Parliamentary meeting starting on Feb. 28, 2022 to remove Azam Baki was MACC Chief Commissioner.
Lim Kit Siang
MP for Iskandar Puteri