Malaysian Bar calls for a revamp of oversight mechanism at MACC

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 – The Malaysian Bar has called for a revamp of the oversight mechanism in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), citing the recent developments concerning the leaders of the agency as serious cause for concern.

The MACC, already embroiled in a scandal following allegations that its Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki has extensive ownership of shares in a public-listed company, saw matters being further complicated with the subsequent response from Azam that his brother had used his trading account to trade in shares, which is in breach of the Securities Commission’s regulation.

On Saturday, six members of the MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) issued a statement disputing an earlier statement by its Chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang at a press conference on January 5th, that the Board had absolved the MACC chief commissioner of any wrongdoing.

Expressing concerns over the transparency of the MACC, Bar Council President AG Kalidas in a statement urged the government to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the accusations against Azam Baki.

“These serious allegations pertain to the national interest of the country.

“The ACAB’s decision to conduct its own investigation, despite being only an advisory body, shows that there is a desperate need of a revamp on the oversight mechanism at the MACC.

“As such, we propose that the MACC be placed under the ambit of Parliament instead of the Executive. For a country to have good governance and true accountability to the public, there needs to be a formidable system of checks and balances. Problems will arise if an agency that is specifically tasked with fighting corruption is not an independent one; where instead, it is placed under the jurisdiction of the Executive.”

Kalidas said the MACC had a critical and decisive role in helping to realise a corruption-free, prosperous and law-abiding Malaysian society and it needs to ensure that it is led by officers whose credibility cannot be questioned.

“Those who lead must discharge their duties honourably, with integrity and honesty, and must be held accountable for their actions.”

The RCI should be set up without delay to commence investigations into the accusations as this is a matter of critical public importance, and any inaction may lead to distrust by the rakyat towards the authorities, he added.