Do the right thing and resign, Gomez tells MACC advisory board

·3-min read
Do the right thing and resign, Gomez tells MACC advisory board
Do the right thing and resign, Gomez tells MACC advisory board

Members of the MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) should resign and be held accountable over the issue involving MACC chief Azam Baki's ownership of shares.

This is according to economist Edmund Terence Gomez (above), who is a former member of MACC's Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel.

Gomez said ACAB members admitted that they have no power to exonerate Azam, something which they allegedly did in November last year after hearing the top graft buster's explanation about the shares he owned in 2015.

"To my mind, the honourable thing would be that they would have to step down.

"Because... by their own admission, they did something that they now acknowledge they should not have done or they have no authority to do," he told Malaysiakini.

In a press conference on Jan 5, ACAB chairperson Abu Zahar Ujang said Azam gave the board an explanation on Nov 24 last year about his ownership of over two million shares.

According to Abu Zahar, the board was satisfied with what Azam told them - that his brother used his account to buy the shares and they had since been transferred to the brother - and they found Azam had neither pecuniary interest nor conflict of interest in the acquisition of those shares.

However, three days later, six other members of ACAB issued a joint press statement disputing Abu Zahar, and that what the latter said was not the board's position but his personal view.

They also stated that the board had no power to investigate as ACAB was established only as an advisory body.

Azam Baki (left) and Abu Zahar Ujang
Azam Baki (left) and Abu Zahar Ujang

Failed to serve as check and balance

Gomez urged the board members to produce the minutes of the Nov 24 meeting so that the public could see what had really transpired in the discussion.

"Did they act appropriately when the issue was first brought to the board meeting on Nov 24?

"If, by their own admission, they did something which they knew they had no authority to do, which is to exonerate Azam, why did they do it?

"Should they be held accountable for exonerating Azam when they have no authority to do this?"

Adding further, Gomez also questioned how members of ACAB were selected to join the board.

He claimed that the advisory board members had failed to function as required, which is to serve as a check and balance mechanism for MACC and its top management.

"This comes back to the question - who decides? Are we sure the members selected to the advisory board and panel will do their job as checks and balances as required?

"Those are among the lessons we have learned. This crisis has shown they are not functioning as they should function."

Azam came under scrutiny recently after allegations surfaced about him having owned shares in two companies back in 2015.

According to Excel Force Bhd's 2015 annual report, Azam owned 2,156,000 warrants in the company as of March 21, 2016. At the time, Azam was the head of MACC's investigation division.

However, in a press conference on Jan 5, Azam said he did not do anything wrong as the shares were bought by his brother, who only used his name.

The issue also caused Gomez to tender his resignation from the consultation panel, claiming that its chairperson Borhan Dollah did not respond to his requests for the panel to convene a meeting about allegations against Azam.

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