By P Ramakrishnan
Ramakrishnan says, ” You are not anybody, Azam. You are in charge of curbing and controlling corruption. The public had a right to ask why you allegedly own millions of shares and why it took you a considerable length of time, to respond to the allegations of impropriety.”
The issue of MACC chief Azam Baki allegedly owning millions of shares in his name was first disclosed by PKR Sungai Buloh MP Sivarasa Rasiah on December 14, 2021.
While it was raging as a hot issue of concern questioning the veryintegrity of theMACC, nothing was said or explained by the MACC or Azam regarding this issue.
Three weeks later, today, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, Azam Baki held a Press conference this afternoon to exonerate himself.He stated that “he did not immediately respond to allegations on his shareholdings because he believed he did nothing wrong.”
It is a strange position to take. If he was innocent as claimed, there was all the more reason why he should have responded immediately. His silence was irresponsible, to put it mildly. By ignoring an issue that needed an urgent explanation, he had unnecessarily invited comments that were very damaging to his reputation. By refusing to be accountable to public opinion, he had encouraged comments that had tarnished the standing ofthe MACC. By not addressing the burning issue urgently, he was responsible for people doubting the integrity of the MACC.
When questioned by a journalist why it took him some time to openly address the issue, he responded, “I did not respond (to the allegations) in public because I did not do anything wrong.”
Well, it is not for him to conclude whether he did not do anything wrong but for the public to arrive at that judgmentafter considering his explanation. He cannot clear himself; he has to be cleared by others after listening to his explanation. That normis succinctly captured in the idiom that says, “No man can be his own judge.”
It is another ludicrous statement when he stated, “Like what I have explained to the advisory board (the MACC Corruption Prevention Advisory Board, also known as LPPR), the shares were bought by my brother who borrowed my name.”
This is really intriguing!
Why had his brother to borrow his name? That has not been explained at all. Couldn’t his brother have bought those shares under his own name? What prevented him from doing so through his own volition? What was the advantage ofbuying those shares in Azam Baki’s name? Was there a special discount or a special rate for those shares bought under Azam’s name?
Was his brother trying to get around a problem by using Azam’s name? What was the problem? What was the need? We need to know!
Further, couldn’t Azam have advised his brother that it would be wrong to buy under his name because that would create difficulties for him when the issue became public, as it has now? As the MACC chief commissioner, Azam must always know that he must, like Cesar’s wife, be beyond reproach.
Azam further clarified, “When I was called to explain about the matter, I appeared before the advisory board and provided them with details. I am only answerable to LPPR,” he said.
Surprisingly, he does not mention the date when he appeared before the board to provide his clarification. We need to know when this took place. After MP Sivarasa raised the issue or even before that?
Malaysians cannot accept his claim, “I am only answerable to LPPR.”
Don’t turntechnical when your own moral integrity is at stake! No, my friend, ultimately you are answerable to the public who pay your salary. You are accountable to us, the public.
Azam, seemingly in trying to extricate himselffrom this awkward situation stated, “And all the shares were later transferred back to him (my brother).”
Why this to-and-fro method of doing business? What was his brother’s gainful advantage in buying the shares under Azam’s name? Why this roundabout way of transaction?
You cannot blame people if they think that it is a cock-and-bull story!
When pressed further why he let his brother use his name to buy the shares, Azam said he did not see it as an issue.
He also challenged his critics to prove that dealing in such a way was an offence.”I will just give a brief answer to this. I did not see it as an issue, so I let him (buy the shares using my name).
You are not anybody, Azam. You are in charge of curbing and controlling corruption. When it came to light that you had this unexplained huge amount of shares, it put the MACC in a tight spot. The public had a right to ask, “Why put a fox in a chicken pen to guard the chicken?”
Azam also claimed that he had briefed his unnamedsuperior in the MACC back then about his brother acquiring shares on his name.This was done on his own initiative despite not having to do so, he added.
If the MACC was already aware of this case, wouldn’t it be natural for it to have come out with an immediate explanation rather than allowing it to drag on and tarnish the image of MACC? Wouldn’t it be prudent on the part of Azam to have informed the board – rather than his unnamedsuperior – so that this situation could have been noted and minuted and put beyond question? Why didn’t he do this simple thing – followthe right procedure?
According to Azam, what was happening now was an attempt by certain interested parties who want to erode the people’s trust in the MACC.
If that was so, are you insinuating that the public is so stupid to swallow everything that was said by these interested parties? If you had responded immediately, the question of MACC losing the public trust would not have arisen. You caused this perception. You were responsible for the negative views and statements made by the various quarters. You had a duty to safeguard the MACC’s reputation but you failed to do so. You allowed the MACC to be dragged through the mud.
Azam pledged, “I give my assurance that I will continue to carry out my duties and responsibilities to bring the MACC towards being an agency that is credible, integrity (sic) and professional in all its actions,” The sad truth is that nobody will now believe that you are the person capable to bring the MACC towards being an agency that is credible and professional. Your long silence and evasive answers are the cause for the erosion of public confidence in the MACC.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
06 January 2022