The various comments in the local media, as well as by civil society organisations, suggest that the public is not convinced of the MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board‘s decision to clear MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki of any wrongdoing about the purchase of the shares.
The questions being raised include whether, as a civil servant, Azam had been declaring his assets regularly to the board of MACC, how did his brother finance the purchase of the shares, and whether it is permissible under the rules for his share account to be used by his brother for the share purchase.
As the share purchase was in 2015, it’s not clear why this matter was not dealt with much earlier. All this mystery raises the question of whether the various committees created under the MACC legislation are discharging their duties faithfully to provide the internal checks and balances on the functioning of the anti-corruption agency and the personal integrity of its chief commissioner.
This is a matter of high public interest and therefore, as there is much that needs to be clarified, we believe that the case should be referred to a parliamentary select committee to conduct a full inquiry.
The testimonies from the chairperson of MACC, the chief commissioner, and the members of the advisory and other committees will help the select committee determine who else to summon to give their expert opinion on whether what happened was legal and proper.
Based on all the testimonies, the parliamentary committee will then be able to express its views whether that share purchase constitutes proper conduct on the part of the chief commissioner considering his position as head of the anti-corruption agency, one of the institutions of governance charged with the responsibility to make the government clean and respectable, free of corruption.
This case about the chief commissioner of MACC will test whether the government is serious about implementing the MOU it signed with the opposition leaders in September last year on the reforms to strengthen the country’s system of governance. One of the promised reforms is the empowerment of parliament in overseeing the government, its ministries and agencies.
The local and foreign financial markets will be watching how the public concern over the chief commissioner’s purchase of the shares is resolved. The investment community will be encouraged if it is resolved through the parliamentary process of making the MACC function with high standards of integrity, accountability and transparency.
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