Citing MACC Act, Azalina asks if Anti-Corruption Advisory Board consulted special committee before issuing statements

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Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said speaks during a press conference in Seri Kembangan January 7, 2021. — Bernama pic
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said speaks during a press conference in Seri Kembangan January 7, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — PM’s legal adviser Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said today weighed in on the ongoing debacle around the allegations of proxy stock trading against Tan Sri Azam Baki, asking if the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board had first consulted Parliament’s Special Committee (SC) on Corruption before issuing any public statements.

Azalina, a former law minister and current Pengerang MP, had also asked the SC to state its views about the opinions expressed by the advisory body, whose chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang held a press conference where he suggested that Azam Baki had done nothing wrong.

“Did the Advisory Body confer with the Special Committee prior to issuing any statement?” Azalina wrote on her official Facebook page.

“What is the SC’s stand on the Advisory’s opinions? Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim and Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai please comment,” she added.

Other members of the advisory body had previously issued a statement to distance themselves from Abu Zahar’s opinion, saying the latter had merely expressed his personal views and not the board’s.

Azalina’s question was likely a legal reference to certain provisions of the MACC Act, which states among others that the SC shall “examine the comments of the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board as to the exercise by the Commission of its functions under this Act” and “to seek clarifications and explanations on the annual report of the Commission and the comments of the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board.”

Procedurally, the SC performs oversight of the MACC Advisory Body which falls on the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board under Section 13 of the Act.

Section 15 of the Act also provides for a Complaints Committee to be appointed to monitor the conduct of MACC’s officers.

Azalina had raised the two points in her posting about the affair, although she stopped short of explaining why.

But in a third question directed at Hassan and Wong, MP from PKR and the DAP, the deputy speaker had asked if the issue about Azam Baki’s share ownership had been raised upon his appointment as MACC chief commissioner in 2020 by the then prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Azalina had also questioned if the matter was brought to the attention of the Complaints Committee before or during Azam Baki’s appointment.

“Tan Sri Azam Baki was appointed by Pagoh MP as the 8th prime minister. I assume that thorough due diligence was conducted by relevant authorities prior to his appointment. Was this issue highlighted then?” she asked.

Malay Mail had asked Azalina why the question was only directed to the two opposition MPs and not the three other senators. The senators are Dewan Negara Speaker Tan Sri Rais Yatim, chairman of the SC, Senator Muhd Nasir Hashim and Senator Datuk Zaiedi Suhaili.

“Just wondering,” the deputy speaker replied briefly.

Azam has been under public scrutiny in recent weeks over his acquisition of millions of shares in two public-listed companies back in 2015. He maintained that he had done nothing illegal, and that the stocks accumulated since then were bought by his brother.

At the same news conference, the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang Abu Zahar said an internal inquiry last November 24 cleared Azam of any wrongdoing, adding that all the shares had subsequently been transferred to Nasir in 2015.

The Securities Commission said last week that it would call the MACC chief commissioner in for questioning over alleged violation of stock trading laws.

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