Why graft is dangerous to MACC

Cartoon by Fahmi Reza

There appears to be a groundswell of discontent following a press conference held by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on 5 January that was supposed to offer a definitive answer to allegations of impropriety on the part of chief commissioner Azam Baki.

The MACC corruption prevention advisory board’s acceptance of Azam’s explanation that his brother Nasir bought shares worth millions by using Azam’s share trading account did not go down well with many Malaysians who are concerned about the agency’s integrity, transparency and accountability.

For the Malaysian public, the clarification was untenable, to put it mildly, which explains why more questions were raised as a result.

Calls were already made by civil society organisations and other quarters to the government to conduct proper and thorough investigations into the allegations as well as other cases involving the MACC.

That is why many people regarded Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s earlier long silence on this matter as too deafening, particularly because the MACC comes under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department.

More importantly, Ismail’s intervention is crucial in that it would indicate the government’s supposed seriousness in combating corruption, which has become rife in our society – an unenviable situation that has gained world attention.

Equally important, the integrity of the agency must be restored and reinforced as it is an institution that should serve as a bastion to protect society from the ravages of corruption.

Indeed, the uneasiness on the ground should be enough reason for Ismail to take serious action.

For instance, many took exception to Azam’s contention that he was answerable only to the oversight panel and no one else. That peeved many people, prompting them to warn him that as a civil servant, he was accountable to taxpayers, who pay his salary.

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The public also did not take kindly to Azam’s move to go after whistleblowers, which is not what a graft-buster is expected to do.

The Malaysian Bar, among others, has called for the setting up of a royal commission of inquiry to investigate allegations made against Azam.

Various people have lodged police reports, calling for a probe of Azam.

Questions were also asked, for example, as to why Nasir had to make use of his brother’s trading account to buy big amounts of shares. Why could he not use his own account? Doesn’t his action go against the law?

Incidentally, even the mosques found it necessary to deliberate on the issue of corruption to their respective Friday congregations on 7 January , particularly touching on the evil temptation that lurks in the civil service.

If such penetrating questions asked and steps taken by certain quarters are not enough to prod the prime minister to take action, things articulated on social media should help to convince him.

Some took to social media to express their anxiety, frustration and even disgust as they felt that their intelligence had been insulted by what was regarded as a ridiculous explanation. Others responded in the most creative way possible, taking a dig at Azam and other related parties. It appeared to be an open season for social media users to vent their feelings.

Driven by his creative impulses, the indefatigable political graphic designer Fahmi Reza sprang into action. In his comical sketch, a moustached person, attired in what looked like a MACC uniform, is seen pointing his index finger towards a standing baby who is still sucking a soother, saying, “My brother did it.”

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A tweet, with a handle @bawangmana, cynically asserts that Azam Baki finds that the spirit of the Malaysian family (keluarga Malaysia) could be better absorbed and appreciated through the accounts of siblings. This was also an indirect jibe at the keluarga Malaysia slogan peddled by the prime minister.

A sketch of Azam Baki by the famous political cartoonist Zunar saw the former saying, “My resolution (azam) this year is to use up all of the remaining (baki) cash in my possession. It was a mischievous play on his name.

Whether in serious form or mockery, Malaysians have expressed their concerns about an institution that is expected to exercise high standards of integrity, professionalism and accountability.

As intimated above, public trust in the MACC as a bulwark against the destructive forces of corruption must not be betrayed. This explains why their officials are expected to be “whiter than white”. In other words, there should be no compromises to their “whiteness”. – The Malaysian Insight



AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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