‘AZAM AFFAIR’ BUCK STOPS WITH MUHYIDDIN OR ISMAIL SABRI? – DID MUHYIDDIN DO DUE DILIGENCE – OR WAS IT JUST AN ‘ATTACK DOG’ HE WANTED AGAINST HIS POLITICAL FOES? – UMNO’S AZALINA MAY WANT TO DEFLECT BLAME FROM ISMAIL – BUT IT’S ISMAIL’S GOVT THAT’S NOW PROTECTING AZAM BY ‘DOWNPLAYING’ THE SERIOUSNESS OF HIS SHARES DEALINGS

Azalina asks if Muhyiddin vetted Azam Baki properly before appointing him as MACC chief

PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been asked if he did his due diligence before appointing Tan Sri Azam Baki as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption (MACC) chief commissioner.

The question was raised by Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who also asked whether the issue of Azam acquiring shares was brought to the attention of the MACC’s Complaints Committee prior to his appointment as provided for under Section 15 of the MACC Act 2009.

The Pengerang MP said that Azam was appointed by Muhyiddin, who was the prime minister at the time.

“I assume thorough due diligence was conducted by relevant authorities prior to his appointment. Was this issue highlighted then,” she said in a Facebook post on Sunday (Jan 9).

Allegations recently surfaced that Azam owned a substantial number of shares in two companies between 2015 and 2016 when he was the MACC director of investigations.

On Wednesday (Jan 5), Azam said he had given permission to his younger brother, Nasir, to use his trading account to acquire the shares.

Azalina, who is also the special adviser (law and human rights) to the Prime Minister, noted that Section 15 of the MACC Act 2009 allowed for the appointment of a complaints committee to monitor the conduct of MACC’s officers.

She added that there were already a number of independent committees and oversight bodies in the MACC and questioned whether there was any need for more to be established.

According to her, one of these committees is a Special Committee on Corruption which was appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The special committee comprises three senators and two MPs and is chaired by the Dewan Negara president.

“Procedurally, this special committee performs oversight of the MACC Advisory Board, which falls under Section 13 of the Act (MACC Act 2009). Clearly, there are two oversight bodies appointed by the King,” she said. Did the advisory board confer with the special committee prior to issuing any statement? What is the special committee’s stand on the advisory board’s opinions?” she said.

On Saturday (Jan 8), six members of the Anti-Corruption advisory board distanced themselves from chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang’s statement on Wednesday that the board was satisfied with the explanation provided by Azam over the matter.

However, three deputy chief commissioners of MACC issued a statement, standing by Azam and stated that the recent accusations and slander thrown at Azam were motivated by “revenge politics” aimed at undermining the image and credibility of the anti-graft agency.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the public should wait for the investigations, including by the Securities Commission of Malaysia, to be completed. ANN

Wan Junaidi’s remarks on share price downplay seriousness of Azam issue, say parliamentary panel members

PETALING JAYA: De facto law minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku’s Jaafar’s remarks on MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki’s share trading controversy are disappointing as they sidestep the key questions in the issue, say four members of a Parliamentary Special Select Committee.

“As the minister responsible for law, we regret that Wan Junaidi seems to have downplayed the seriousness of Azam’s actions by discussing the value of the shares at the time of purchase.

“Wan Junaidi has justified the (matter) of shares held by Azam by saying that it is worth RM330,000 and therefore affordable,” the MPs in the Special Select Committee for Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department said in a joint statement on Sunday (Jan 9).

They are Chan Foong Hin (PH-Kota Kinabalu), Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka), Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) and William Leong (PH-Selayang).

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) explained that when the shares were bought in 2016, the one million shares were only valued at RM330,000, priced at between 30 sen and 33 sen per share.

“Our question is, why does Wan Junaidi seem to be protecting Azam? The issue of buying these shares is not just an issue of affordability.

“It is also a question of conflict of interest. It is also a question of integrity.

“It is also a question of the deficit of the people’s trust in the MACC as an eradicator of corruption. Wan Junaidi seems to have ignored all these questions,” said the group.

The MPs also pointed out that Wan Junaidi’s statement about Azam himself being able to afford purchasing the shares with his own salary did not match the chief commissioner’s own claims that it was his brother who used his account to buy the shares.

“We note that the Special Committee on Corruption (established legally under Section 14 of the Malaysian Anti -Corruption Commission Act 2009) headed by the Speaker of the Senate Tan Sri Rais Yatim will take action on this issue.

“Our question is, when will it be the turn of the Special Select Committee on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department, led by Kuala Krai MP Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman of PAS?” their statement added.

They also questioned why their call to hold a Special Select Committee hearing on the Azam matter was set aside.

“How can parliamentary democracy in Malaysia work if the (committee) cannot carry out its duties independently without having to seek approval from the executive?” the MPs said.

On Wednesday (Jan 5), Azam told a media conference that he had explained to the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board that he had given his younger brother permission to use his trading account to acquire shares in the open market some time in 2015.

Azam also said he had informed his superiors about the matter at the time, and his brother transferred the shares to his own account a year later.

Allegations recently surfaced that Azam owned a substantial number of shares in Gets Global Bhd as well as Excel Force MSC Bhd between 2015 and 2016 when he was the MACC director of investigations.

Azam has maintained that he did not commit any wrongdoing. ANN

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