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LETTER | Why didn't PM make his move early to quell Azam Baki controversy?

LETTER | We wish to refer to the news report in which MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki was reported to have said that only the Agong could ask him to resign over the controversy relating to the acquisition of a questionable number of shares held by him in a number of public listed companies, which he claimed belong to his brother.

As a senior public servant appointed by the Agong, he should have known that to be bestowed the appointment as the MACC chief commissioner comes with certain responsibilities that have to be honoured and to show himself to be a person bearing the highest dignity, integrity and that he is willing to undertake duties only to serve the nation loyally for the king and country.

Azam accepted the appointment under oath to serve the nation’s interest first. He must set aside any personal interest that he may have, and avoid implicating himself with matters that will be in conflict with his avowed responsibilities and duties.

The question of one is innocent unless and until proven guilty has no more merit in this case as Azam himself did admit that the alleged shares belong to his brother who used Azam’s personal account. Even here, he has broken the law which does not allow a third party to use one’s personal account to dabble in shares.

Therefore, to now invoke the name of Agong to seemingly parachute himself from the controversy connotes a lack of maturity in his understanding of and reverence for the royal assent to his appointment.

In no uncertain terms, it borders on rudeness and shows disrespect to the revered office of the king. And by this very rude disposition towards the palace, Azam has deemed his appointment untenable. Hence, the only recourse is for Azam to resign.

Any further attempt to stubbornly hold on to his appointment only makes a mockery of the Agong and implicates the high office of the MACC.

Patriot would like to remind Azam that his actions and media statements, as well as the subsequent statement by MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairperson Abu Zahar Ujang to absolve him of his wrongdoing, do not meet the eyes of the general public. 

The public sentiment registered in news media and going overdrive on social media clearly shows that there is an acute distrust in the MACC.

MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki

Azam’s case coming hot on the heels of the recent case of the RM 25 million which was in safekeeping at MACC and was reported stolen by a senior MACC official has compounded MACC with a paralysing trust deficit.

Patriot, therefore, strongly believes that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should have taken the right and immediate action in ensuring that Azam either resigns voluntarily or goes on garden leave in order to empower investigations to proceed unhindered.

The prime minister must be cognisant of the non-negotiable fact that an institution like this graft busting body, MACC, is not like any other commission. As the ultimate power over our nation’s battle against corruption, it investigates irrespective of who the individual or organisation is.

But when even the MACC is implicated or alleged – and now stained by a stolen RM25 million in its safekeeping – followed by Azam himself having admitted that the millions of ringgit of shares held under his name were the operatives of his brother, Ismail Sabri’s lack of decisive action and immediacy has added to the damages upon the nation’s good name and leading to the showing of disrespect towards the palace.

Patriot upholds patriotism to the letter. We believe that patriotism is the very cornerstone for building a resilient, progressive and successful nation. It is the duty and prerogative of the serving prime minister to ensure that patriotism is not trampled upon by those in office.

Hence, not calling for Azam’s resignation or at the least in ensuring that the implicated captain goes on legitimate leave in order to empower impartial investigations that are vital to redeem the good name of the anti-corruption Institution, rescue the falling public trust deficit in the MACC and to safeguard the sanctity of the Constitutional Monarchy, is an attack on patriotism too.

MOHAMED ARSHAD RAJI is the president of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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