Azam dares Agong ...
Defiant MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) Chief Commissioner Azam Baki has decided to dig his heels in, refusing to take garden leave, let alone resigning amid his corruption scandal over the purchase of millions of shares in the stock market. Worse, he actually believed that he was so powerful and untouchable that only the King (Agong) can sack him.
It was already hilarious when Mr Azam offered himself to be investigated only by the same anti-corruption agency that he is currently heading – suggesting one of the dirtiest cover-ups is being put in place to clear the MACC chief. It’s extremely hard to trust that the anti-graft agency would investigate professionally and independently against its own chief.
The simple fact that the graft busters’ chief deliberately misled the country that only Agong can terminate him clearly demonstrates his reluctance to follow the rules. Because he was appointed by the King based on the advice from the Prime Minister, Azam Baki can be similarly fired by the monarch if PM Ismail Sabri advises King Sultan Abdullah to do so.
Therefore, it’s not true that the process of termination must start at the Palace. The prime minister can decide that the highly controversial MACC Chief Commissioner be replaced, or at least put on garden leave, pending a thorough investigation. In fact, to ensure transparency, the police – NOT MACC – should investigate the chief of the anti-corruption agency.
However, it’s very likely that Azam Baki has all the damaging files that could embarrass or implicate every top government officials, including PM Ismail Sabri, for corruption. That’s why he knew the lame duck prime minister would keep quiet. It’s not an exaggeration to say the MACC chief even has files on the monarchs, including Sultans and the King, who actively involve in business deals.
Not only Azam did not bother to show any respect for the prime minister, he has actually dared or challenged the King to sack him – if the Malay Ruler has the balls. Crucially, the MACC chief is testing the water to determine whether the weak Sabri administration or the Palace would take any action against him. Any lack of actions would mean Azam is untouchable.
Like it or not, the King appears to have little choice but to take the bold move – terminate the toxic Azam. As turtle-egg Sabri pretends nothing had happened, any further silence from the monarch could be misinterpreted as an endorsement – even approval – to the leadership of Azam Baki in running MACC. Worse, the monarch could also be seen as too afraid of the anti-corruption chief.
It didn’t help that disgraced former PM Muhyiddin, who was responsible for appointing Azam, has cowardly washed his hands. Mr Muhyiddin conveniently blamed Chief Secretary Mohd Zuki Ali for proposing Azam. But should not Muhyiddin administration perform the necessary background checks before appointing Azam as MACC chief commissioner in March 2020?
It’s unthinkable that Muhyiddin was not briefed by the chief secretary Zuki about Azam’s purchase of millions of shares in two public-listed companies back in 2015. Hence, either Zuki was incredibly incompetent (and should be sacked) or Muhyiddin had purposely appointed a corrupted new graft busters’ chief so that he could be controlled or manipulated.
Of course, Muhyiddin did not wish to get involved in Azam’s scandal because he knew the MACC chief could easily leak information about the RM38.5 million corruption scandal involving dubious renovations in the Prime Minister’s official residence. The project, which was personally approved by Mahiaddin alias Muhyiddin during his regime, could explode if he does not play dumb.
Still, the fact that Muhyiddin has distanced himself from the man he appointed less than two years ago also suggests that Azam is too guilty and toxic to be defended. The public perception is such that not only the MACC chief is dirty based on his attempts to twist and spin stories as well as hiding behind the MACC advisory board, but also has become too powerful and arrogant.
The King should have learned his lesson previously when the people’s anger spread from the clueless and incompetent Muhyiddin regime to the Malay Rulers after economic mismanagement and Covid mishandling. The ball is in Agong’s court. The monarch cannot keep quiet, especially after he was responsible for appointing two incompetent governments – Mahiaddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri.
MACC Chief Commissioner Azam Baki is not the only man who has lost the confidence of the people. MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairman Abu Zahar Nika Ujang, along with MACC Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel chairman Borhan Dollah, should also be fired, or at least demoted, for lying and covering up for Mr Azam.
When Professor Edmund Terence Gomez resigned from the MACC’s Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel in protest of inaction against the MACC chief, Abu Zahar lied that Gomez did not send any email to him. Borhan, on the other hand, also lied when he said emails from Gomez were not related to any wrongdoings committed by MACC chief Azam Baki.
But the biggest reason the King should terminate advisory board chairman Abu Zahar is because the board has effectively lost confidence in the chairman. After Zahar unilaterally told a press conference on January 5, 2022 that Azam Baki had been cleared of any wrongdoing, apparently his decision was “unknown” to all the six fellow board members.
Abu Zahar has claimed that the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board held an internal inquiry last November 24 and cleared Azam of any wrongdoing, including Azam’s story that all the shares which he bought in 2015 had been transferred to his brother Nasir in the same year. But in a joint statement on January 8, all the 6 board members revealed that Azam’s share trading scandal was not discussed at all.
It means all the six members – Ismail Omar, Azman Ujang, Akhbar Satar, Hamzah Kassim, David Chua Kok Tee and Mohammad Agus – did not even realize there was a board meeting that eventually cleared the MACC chief. Obviously, Abu Zahar has abused his power and thus must be terminated by the King in order to restore the integrity and reputation of the board.
Amusingly, it was only after all the six board members openly exposed their chairman’s lies that Abu Zahar finally admitted that the board did not possess the power to conduct its own investigations into criminal activities involving any MACC officer, let alone clearing them of any wrongdoing. So, how and why did Abu Zahar clear his friend Azam Baki in the first place on January 5?
Instead of apologizing or resigning for misleading the public, the despicable advisory board chairman whined, moaned and bitched that his colleagues had backstabbed him. As part of damage control, Abu Zahar had wanted to use a closed-door meeting with the board members to convince them to agree with his earlier fake story that the board was satisfied with Azam’s story.
No matter how Abu Zahar spins his story, the fact remains that he has essentially lost the confidence of the board. Not only he lied, but has also obstructed any further investigations by falsely claiming that an investigation had been conducted. After all, he did not dispute the Board’s’ revelation that it did not elaborate Azam’s stock purchase at all.
Even if all the six board members are being pressured and warned not to issue any remarks or statements now, the King cannot allow Abu Zahar to continue leading the advisory board. With the reputation and integrity of both Azam Baki and Abu Zahar being questioned by the people and the advisory board, the King has to proactively do the right thing – terminate both despicable chiefs. - FT
Why didn’t PM make his move early
to quell the Azam Baki controversy?
We wish to refer to FMT dated 12 January in which the MACC Commissioner Azam Baki was reported to have said that only the Agong could ask him to resign over the controversy relating to the acquisition of questionable number of shares held by him in a number of public listed companies, which he claimed belongs to his brother.
As a senior public servant appointed by the Agong, he should have known that to be bestowed the appointment as the MACC Commissioner comes with certain responsibilities that has to be honoured, and to show himself to be a person bearing the highest dignity, integrity, and that he is willing to undertake duties only to serve the nation loyally for King and country. Azam accepted the appointment under oath to serve the nation’s interest first.
He must set aside any personal interest that he may have, and to avoid implicating himself with matters that will be in conflict with his avowed responsibilities and duties.
The question of one is innocent unless and until proven guilty has no more merit in this case as Azam himself did admit that the alleged shares belong to his brother who used Azam’s personal account. Even here he has broken the law which does not allow a third party to use one’s personal account to dabble in shares.
Therefore to now invoke the name of Agong to seemingly parachute himself from the controversy connotes a lack of maturity in his understanding of and reverence for the royal assent to his appointment. In no uncertain terms it borders on rudeness and shows disrespect to the revered office of His Majesty the King.
And by this very rude disposition towards the Palace, Azam has deemed his appointment untenable. Hence the only recourse is for Azam to resign. Any further attempt to stubbornly hold on to his appointment only makes a mockery of the Agong and implicates the high office of the MACC.
Patriot would like to remind Azam Baki that his actions and media statements as well as the subsequent statement by Abu Zahar to absolve him of his wrongdoing do not meet the eyes of the general public. The public sentiment registered in news media and going overdrive on social media clearly shows that there is an acute distrust in MACC. Azam’s case coming hot on the heels of the recent case of the RM 25 million which was in safe keeping at MACC and was reported stolen by a senior MACC official has compounded MACC with a paralyzing trust deficit.
Patriot therefore strongly believes that Ismail Sabri should have taken the right and immediate action in ensuring that Azam Baki either resigned voluntarily or went on garden leave in order to empower investigations to proceed unhindered. The PM must be cognizant of the non-negotiable fact that an institution like this graft busting body, MACC, is not like any other Commission. As the ultimate power over our nation’s battle against corruption, it investigates irrespective of who the individual or organization is.
But when even MACC is implicated or alleged – and now stained by a stolen RM25 million in its safe keeping followed by the Commission’s Captain himself having admitted that the millions of ringgit of shares held under his name were the operatives of his brother, the PM’s lack of decisive action and immediacy has added to the damages upon the nation’s good name and leading to the showing of disrespect towards the Palace.
Patriot upholds patriotism to the letter. We believe that patriotism is the very cornerstone for building a resilient, progressive and successful nation. It is the duty and prerogative of the serving Prime Minister to ensure that patriotism is not trampled upon by those in office.
Hence not calling for Azam’s resignation or at the least in ensuring that the implicated captain goes on legitimate leave in order to empower impartial investigations that are vital to redeem the good name of the anti-corruption Institution, rescue the falling public trust deficit in MACC and to safeguard the sanctity of the Constitutional Monarchy, is an attack on patriotism too.- Brigadier General Dato’ Mohd Arshad Raji (Rtd).President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan