The authorities should focus on thoroughly investigating Azam’s alleged misconduct instead, the Opposition says
by ASILA JALIL / Pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
OPPOSITION lawmakers criticised the authorities for pursuing investigations against whistleblower Lalitha Kunaratnam who exposed the alleged purchase of shares by Tan Sri Azam Baki (picture) in two public-listed companies.
In a statement signed by Opposition MPs yesterday, they said the government should not have gone after whistleblowers and those who have spoken up against the purported misdeeds of Azam who is also Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner.
“Police investigations being opened pursuant to police reports lodged by MACC against whistleblower Lalitha, who exposed the alleged company shares being owned by Azam and those which may be held in proxy by his younger brother is clearly a harassment by MACC instead of respecting her position as a whistleblower.
“Instead of wasting valuable police resources and time on people speaking up in the public interest on these issues, the authorities should focus on thoroughly investigating Azam instead of believing his mere words without proper evidence,” they said.
The government was also told to cooperate with whistleblowers who have released evidence and acknowledge their acts instead of treating them as wrongdoers.
The statement was signed by Sungai Buloh MP Sivarasa Rasiah, Petaling Jaya Maria Chin Abdullah, Simpang Renggam MP Dr Maszlee Malik, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Jerlun MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto, Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim, Ledang MP Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin and Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil.
Other signatories include Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasir, Pulai MP Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, Kangar MP Amin Ahmad, Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Sekijang MP Natrah Ismail, Rasah MP Cha Kee Chin, Hulu Selangor MP June Leow, Beruas MP Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham, Kampar MP Thomas Su Keong Siong, Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar and Parit Buntar MP Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof.
The politicians urged Azam to take leave of absence or be suspended to allow for an independent and transparent investigation because as they claimed he is abusing his power as he stays in the role amid the controversy.
“He instead filed a RM10 million defamation suit against Lalitha while still not having cleared the air on his alleged misdeeds. This is unnecessary and uncalled for by Azam.
“We fully support the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council’s call to the government to immediately suspend Azam so there can be investigations without fear or favour,” they said.
On Wednesday, Azam had filed a defamation suit against Lalitha demanding RM10 million in damages and a public apology.
He had also said that he would not take heed of demands for him to resign as the matter is up to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The Opposition MPs said Azam should not wait for an eventual day but should reveal the truth now to clear his name.
“He is clinging on to power and refusing to even take leave when an ongoing investigation is taking place,” they added, drawing similarities to former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s action on the controversial 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
They added that PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob should take the matter seriously and acknow-ledge the views of 50 NGOs including Suara Rakyat Malaysia and the National Patriots Association to initiate an independent investigation against Azam.
“We urge for this independent investigation to be under the Parliament. Instead of having a one-day special sitting at the Dewan Rakyat just on flood issues, the government should extend the meeting so as to thoroughly deliberate the flood issue as well as allegations against Azam, and other corruption issues as these are urgent national issues.
“Ismail Sabri and his government needs to act fast on this matter as the actions of the authorities so far do not show Perikatan Nasional taking corruption issues seriously,” they said.