Azam Baki must be held accountable for Malaysia's drop in global corruption index, says Kit Siang

·4-min read
Protesters hold placards during the #TangkapAzamBaki rally in Kuala Lumpur January 22, 2022. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Protesters hold placards during the #TangkapAzamBaki rally in Kuala Lumpur January 22, 2022. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Malaysia is in need of a new chief commissioner to lead the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), after corruption in the country was perceived to have worsened further, Lim Kit Siang said.

According to Transparency International (TI), Malaysia ranked 62nd in 2021 — five rungs lower than the previous year.

In a statement today, the DAP veteran and Iskandar Puteri MP said that the new chief commissioner should have one crucial key performance index (KPI) — to ensure that China and Indonesia do not overtake Malaysia in TI’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) “whether before 2025 or 2030”.

Lim said that another reason as to why the current MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki must relinquish his post, is that apart from Argentina, Turkey, Mexico and Venezuela, Malaysia has a lower score in the said index, compared to the 14 countries it had previously beaten in the 1995 TI CPI 27 years ago.

“In 1995, TI surveyed 41 countries while in 2021, 180 countries were surveyed. From 1995 till 2011, the maximum score was 10 points but from 2012 onwards, the maximum score was altered to 100 points. In 1995, Malaysia scored 5.28 points out of 10 and ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries.

“In countries where there is integrity and accountability, the MACC chief commissioner would have handed in his resignation at the atrocious TI CPI 2020/2021 reports where Malaysia fell five points in score and 11 points in ranking in two years,” Lim added.

He lamented that for nearly one month, Malaysia was mired in “government and parliamentary paralysis” over Azam’s stock trading saga, adding that Azam failed to be a prime example of integrity, probity and accountability, over the said issue.

Lim said that the hope that Malaysia might become one of the world’s top 30 countries in public integrity by 2030 under the then Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was destroyed by the ‘Sheraton Move’ political conspiracy on Feb 26, 2020, leading to the sorry state of the latest TI CPI.

“The country was promised that under the former Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) regime in the last decade, that Malaysia would achieve the target to be in the top 30 countries in the world in public integrity and anti-corruption. Studying the TI CPI ranking and score for the 24-year series of TI CPI from 1995-2018, there was no grounds for anyone to believe that the target of Malaysia being ranked in the top 30 countries of TI CPI 2020 could be achieved.

“Countries which had been down on the list of the TI CPI ranking in the first series in 1995, like China, Thailand, India and Indonesia, were fast catching up to Malaysia’s level, which had regressed since 1995.Fortunately, this trajectory was stopped when the PH government took over, and in the TI CPI 2019, Malaysia achieved the best TI CPI performance in 25 years with a single-year improvement of six points for TI CPI score and 10 placings for TI CPI ranking — a ranking of No. 51 and score of 53 out of the 100,” he said.

Lim added that Malaysia is now back on a “slippery slope of corruption”, similar to the situation before the 14th general election, cautioning that the worst is yet to come over the whole “Azam-gate” saga.

“If Malaysia does not buck up on the anti-corruption front, it is not inconceivable that Indonesia may even overtake Malaysia in the TI CPI before 2025,” he said.

Regulator Securities Commission (SC) had on January 19 said it decided that Section 25(4) of the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act 1991 — which only allows share trading accounts to be used by the person benefiting from it or which disallows proxy trading — had not been violated by Azam, as independent evidence from an inquiry showed that Azam had control of and operated his trading account by giving instructions to buy, sell and trade shares from the account.

The SC had launched the investigation after Azam previously publicly declared in a press conference that his share trading account was used by his brother to buy shares ― a move widely perceived as proxy trading by the public.

The stock trading scrutiny on Azam intensified after he admitted in a press conference earlier this month that he had allowed his younger brother, Nasir Baki, to use his stock trading account to buy millions worth of shares in two public-listed companies back in 2015.

Azam denied any wrongdoing, saying the amount has since been transferred to Nasir’s account. However, he has not explained publicly why Nasir had to use his account to buy those shares.

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