The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) is against Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chairman Azam Baki’s questionable practice of holding excess shares and allowing family members to arbitrarily use personal stock accounts for transactions. After their special meeting on November 24, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Advisory Board (ACAB) only recently released a conclusion, declaring that they’re “satisfied with MACC Chairman Azam Baki’s explanation”. This demonstrates an obvious lack of transparency and the intention of hastily concluding the case, especially if the decision is made after more than a month of deliberation.
Presently, there are five special committees above the MACC to ensure the transparency and integrity of all external bodies’ operations. They are the Operations Review Panel (Panel Penilaian Operasi), Special Committee on Corruption (Jawatankuasa Khas Mengenai Rasuah), Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (Lembaga Penasihat Pencegahan Rasuah), Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel (Panel Perundingan dan Pencegahan Rasuah) and Complaints Committee (Jawatankuasa Aduan). However, the current practice of each oversight body “performing their duties within a designated territory” is under heavy criticism. They are all unsuccessful in improving the anti-corruption activities of the MACC. In reality, they appear to exist just in name, with several MACC officials allegedly abusing their power or engaging in fraud.
While it is fair to use internal advisory bodies like the ACAB to oversee MACC officials, the issue presently lies within the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009. The Act does not specify whether its authority extends investigative powers against MACC officials, especially those suspected of wrongdoings. The case of Azam Baki is based solely on internal investigations and judgements of the ACAB. Therefore, this allows for the case to conclude quickly, and eliminate the need for an external, independent body to conduct a more thorough investigation. It’s still debatable if their practice complies with the law.
KLSCAH advises that the government must form a more credible Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) or a Special Parliamentary Select Committee due to obvious conflict-of-interest, and breach of Section 25 of the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act 1991 (SICDA). This said committee must conduct an independent investigation into the matter from all angles, and amend the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 that gives the ACAB power to explicitly exercise investigation powers against anti-corruption officials involved in power abuse and strengthen the integrity and accountability of MACC officials. Now, it is also necessary for Azam Baki to temporarily step down as chairman of the MACC while he is under investigation to maintain the credibility and professional image of the MACC.