Malaysia Dateline

MACC set to become the next “National Embarrassment”?

Defensive and indignant, MACC exposes their incompetence and lack of integrity in managing internal corruption scandal.

The resignation of academician Prof Dr Edmund Terence Gomez has kicked off a series of events that has landed MACC chief Azam Baki in very hot water.

Gomez’s resignation was triggered by alleged impropriety and conflict of interest by MACC chief commissioner, Datuk Seri Azam Baki.

The impropriety has been revealed to be a large number of shares bought under the chiefs trading account from two publicly listed companies, Gets Global Bhd and Excel Force MSC Bhd.

These shares in question were purchased between 2015 and 2016 during Azam’s tenure as the MACC director of investigations.

Azam has defended himself against these allegations by stating that he had no part in purchasing the shares and that the trading account was used by his younger brother.

The baffling response from the MACC chief triggered a storm of mockery online with many saying the chief’s excuse is akin to the age-old joke of “my dog ate my homework”.

Azam’s justifications however may not exonerate him as it is possible he has breached the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act by allowing his brother to trade in his name.

Subsections(1), (2) and (5) Section 25(6) of the Act clearly states that no trading of securities shall be carried out using the trading account of another person, unless he or she is an authorised depository agent who has opened and maintained a securities account with the central depository.

Those convicted of violating subsections (1), (2) or (5) can be punished with a maximum fine of RM3 million, up to 10 years in jail, or both.

However, while Azam’s defense may have raised eyebrows, it was the board of MACC’s tone-deaf demeanor from start to end which has casted doubts on the integrity and intelligence of the commission as a whole.

It starts off with the board making the preposterous decision to exonerate Azam despite not launching any proper investigation into the matter.

All three MACC deputy commissioners then came out guns blazing to defend the chief, going so far as to claim that the ‘attacks’ against Azam are politically motivated.

This begs the question, how could these deputy commissioners rush to such a biased conclusion before an investigation has even been completed?

What should a bigger priority for MACC? Uncovering the truth or professing blind loyalty to the chief?

Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has proposed that in light of these officers jumping the gun to defend their chief that the “entire leadership of MACC be vetted, and if possible, reshuffled”.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang on the other hand has warned that Azam’s scandal may have opened the Pandora’s box into MACC’s past, particularly Azam Baki, who once vouched for Najib’s mysterious Arab donor during the 1MDB saga.