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10/01/2022
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Shareholding scandal a blow to MACC’s image

Sin Chew Daily

Controversy over MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki’s shareholding scandal is picking up steam and has commanded a lot of attention from the Malaysian public.

Given Azam Baki’s identity as the chief commissioner of MACC and not just another ordinary officer, it is imperative that the government clarify over this matter and give the rakyat a decent explanation.

Although the agency’s anti-corruption advisory board chairman Abu Zahar Ujang said in a press conference on January 5 that the board was satisfied with Azam Baki’s explanation on this matter, such rhetoric was hardly convincing, nor would it help end the controversy.

Meanwhile, the other six members of the board pointed out in their statements later that the chairman’s remark did not reflect their views, less so represent their position.

This has since sparked more question marks. So, what on earth is happening here?

In another development, energy and natural resources minister Takiyuddin Hassan in defending Azam Baki alleged that the incident had been intentionally raised in an attempt to destabilize the government, while all three MACC deputy commissioners have voiced their support for Azam Baki’s continued leadership, claiming that all allegations made against him are acts of political retaliation aimed at tarnishing the anti-corruption agency’s image and credibility.

Politicizing the incident or a public show of support for the chief commissioner will not actually resolve the controversy. What Malaysians want to see is that the government conducts a thorough probe through appropriate legal proceedings and display the truth in front of the people. This whole thing has nothing to do with politics in the first place.

We need to emphasize here that the scandal has entailed much more than just Azam Baki alone, but also MACC’s image and reputation as well as the government’s sincerity in implementing the reforms.

Due to the severity of the case, it will not end just with some senior government officials standing up and reassuring us that Azam Baki is innocent and that this whole thing is now resolved.

MACC’s public image has not been good for so many years running. In more recent years we see that they have been working very hard to try to reshape the agency’s image in a bid to regain public confidence, but the thing is, MACC officers have been lately prosecuted for misappropriating US$6.94 million (approximately RM29.02 million) of public funds, in addition to the shareholding scandal involving its chief commissioner. These new accusations are set to further bruise the public’s confidence in the agency.

Now that the damage has been done, if the authorities are resolved to thoroughly investigate the case, perhaps this may help recoup some of its lost credibility.

Despite the fact the scandal has picked up steam now, Azam Baki continues to report to work as usual.

Although a person is only guilty after he has been proven so, given Azam Baki’s stature as the most powerful man in charge of the country’s anti-corruption agency, he should take leave to facilitate investigation, and should only go back to work after he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Azam Baki claims that he is innocent and that he is prepared to face the investigation. As such, the authorities should start the investigation right away. The longer the delay, the more damage it will do to MACC’s image.

As the matter is now in national limelight, the authorities must handle it according to the law, failure of which will not only cost the reputation of MACC, but also the people’s confidence in the government,.

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