Kit Siang: MACC chief duty-bound to answer Parliament summons, ignoring call a jailable offence

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PKR members hold up placards protesting alleged corruption in MACC outside the Dang Wangi district police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur January 7, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
PKR members hold up placards protesting alleged corruption in MACC outside the Dang Wangi district police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur January 7, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Tan Sri Azam Baki could be jailed for contempt of Parliament if he defies its notice to appear before the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSC) on the Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department on January 19, according to veteran lawmaker Lim Kit Siang.

The Iskandar Puteri MP said that if the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief fails to response to the bipartisan panel’s demand that he explain the allegations around his shareholdings in several listed companies next Wednesday, it could be considered a breach of his fiduciary duty.

Lim said that as the MACC’s chief commissioner, Azam must answer to Parliament, and that the PSC has wide-reaching powers to compel public officials of any rank for investigation.

“Azam was foolishly wrong when he said he was only answerable to the MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) when he owes a higher responsibility to Parliament and the people of Malaysia to be honest and upright as MACC chief commissioner,” Lim said in a statement.

“Azam should not test the powers of Parliament to punish him for parliamentary contempt if he defies the PSC on the Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department’s subpoena to appear before it next Wednesday to clear himself of the conflict-of-interest allegations.”

Kota Kinabalu MP and PSC member Chan Foong Hin revealed on Thursday that an official letter has been issued by the Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha, to Azam, asking the MACC chief commissioner to present himself before the PSC in Parliament next Wednesday.

Lim suggested the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 clearly empowers Parliament to punish Azam for contempt if he defies the PSC.

Azam found himself at the centre of a controversy involving the purchase of millions of shares in two public-listed companies in 2015 after a journalist reported about his stock ownership in news first surfaced in October last year.

The reports were republished again two months later in December.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob Sabri had said the MACC would start its investigation into Azam’s case.

But Lim said little information about the probe had been revealed, including who in MACC would head the investigation.

The DAP lawmaker also suggested that Azam appeared reluctant to explain himself to the panel based on his public statements.

Azam had said he would not step down although no such demand had been made as yet.

The MACC chief commissioner had also filed a defamation suit against the anti-corruption activist Lalitha Kunaratnam, which drew criticism that he was trying to intimidate the latter.

“I have said that the whole Azam-gate controversy would have been resolved if Azam is prepared to volunteer to appear before the PSC to clear himself of conflict-of-interest allegations,” the DAP leader said.

“Why is Azam not prepared to do so?” Lim asked.

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