Abu Zahar: Media did not give full picture of Jan 5 press conference on Azam Baki; up to govt, Agong to decide fate as ACAB chairman

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Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang speaks to the media during a press conference at the MACC's headquarters in Putrajaya January 11, 2022. — Bernama pic
Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang speaks to the media during a press conference at the MACC's headquarters in Putrajaya January 11, 2022. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang today singled out the media, claiming that the full picture of his January 5 press conference concerning the proxy share trading controversy surrounding Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Tan Sri Azam Baki was not properly related, exposing the former to criticism.

He added that in view of the public scrutiny he has been subject to, he decided to hold another press conference today “in the correct and accurate perspective”.

“Firstly, during the press conference a full 13-page media statement containing my entire statement was distributed, which unfortunately, I also discovered, was not fully reported by some media so as to contribute to misconceptions among the public,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.

Abu Zahar added that there were various issues other than those relating to allegations of misconduct against Azam, which the ACAB had given its views and opinions on, but were not reported by the media.

“What's more, the press conference video which went viral only showed a small part of my statement.

“Finally, if my media statement on January 5, 2022 had displayed an unintended misconception as stated above, to the extent that it tarnishes the good name of the MACC as a whole, which is not intended, I leave it to the absolute discretion of the government and His Majesty the Yang-di Pertuan Agong to determine my position as chairman of the ACAB, which is a trust that I have executed so far, without taking sides. I will definitely abide by that decision,” he said.

Abu Zahar added that as the ACAB chair, he is aware that the board has no power to conduct its own investigations in connection with any criminal misconduct against any MACC officer, and only has powers to provide views and suggestions on how investigations should be done in certain circumstances, according to the provisions under Section 13 (5) (a) of Act 694.

“The views and recommendations of the ACAB are clearly available in particular, on page six (ii) and (iii) therein, which neither intended nor intended to deter one thorough investigation by any government agency that is empowered and independent, to conduct formal investigations relating to allegations of misconduct against the chief commissioner, Tan Sri Azam Baki,” he added.

He also announced that he would not be taking any questions from the media during the press conference, expressing hope that his statement today should be enough to explain the issue.

Over the past month, reports emerged alleging that Azam owned a substantial amount of shares in several publicly-listed companies.

Azam, during a press conference last Wednesday, said he had explained to the ACAB that his share account had been used by his brother, Nasir Baki, to buy stocks in the open market with the latter’s own financing.

During the same news conference last week, Abu Zahar said the ACAB held an internal inquiry last November 24 and cleared Azam of any wrongdoing, adding that all the shares had subsequently been transferred to Nasir in 2015.

Abu Zahar’s remarks however, did not sit well with six of the ACAB members — Tan Sri Ismail Omar, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, Datuk Hamzah Kassim, Datuk David Chua Kok Te and Prof Datuk Mohammad Agus Yusoff — who had in a joint statement, distanced themselves from his statement, adding that it was merely Abu Zahar's personal view of the matter.

On January 8, Minister in Prime MInister’s Department Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Jaafar said shares owned by Azam were not expensive when they were bought.

In a statement, Wan Junaidi said when the shares were first purchased in 2016, the one million shares were only valued at RM330,000 — approximately priced between RM0.30 and RM0.33 per share and the current share size he is holding at the moment had accumulated over the years.

He said Under Public Officers Regulations Act (Conduct and Discipline) 1993, government servants are only prohibited from trading in the futures market, locally and abroad while those who own shares in public listed companies are required to declare them as assets.

Meanwhile, on demands to place the MACC under Parliament, Wan Junaidi said this issue is not a simple matter and needs to be looked into carefully.

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