By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--The resignation of a member of the Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has turned up the heat against the commission’s chief Azam Baki.

Edmund Terence Gomez, a well known and respected academic and economist, turned in his resignation following a lack of action against Azam over the latter’s extensive ownership in corporate stocks.

Gomez also said a former MACC Chief Commissioner was allegedly involved in a conflict-of-interest situation, and urged that this trend in the MACC be investigated, in a strongly worded resignation letter that has since gone viral and can be found published in full here.

He expressed frustration at being stonewalled despite writing to several board members, all of whom failed to respond or clarify the concerns raised in two articles meticulously researched by INS correspondent published Lalitha Kunaratnam by INS in October:

Business Ties Among MACC Leadership: How Deep Does It Go? (Part 1)

Business Ties Among MACC Leadership: How Deep Does It Go? (Part 2)

“I note too that Tan Sri Azam has not made a public statement about the two well publicised reports by the Independent News Service, nor has he responded to public statements made by parliamentarians about his business interests. 

"This deafening silence on the part of the Chief Commissioner, although a serious allegation has been made about his conduct, further indicates why the Advisory Panel as well as the Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel should meet to discuss this matter," Gomez said.

“I find this delay to convene a meeting unconscionable, even extremely irresponsible. Moreover, by not acting on these reports involving the sitting Chief Commissioner of the MACC, this inaction by us, advisors to this anti-corruption institution, constitutes a serious dereliction of duty to the nation,” he added.

Cyber attack against a free press

Gomez also said he had raised the issue of the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack launched by INS following the first two reports in, referencing an editorial by INS on the issue, published in November, but this too had been ignored.

“I also brought to your attention an editorial in the Independent News Service, that its website had been hacked after its reports on the MACC were published. I did not receive a response from you to this letter,” he said, referring to MACC’s Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel chairman Burhan Dollah.

Possible unsanctioned surveillance, abuse of spyware

Previously, several Members of Parliament from the country’s opposition coalition have raised concerns over what they said were “excessive” assets held by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s chief Azam Baki.

The group, led by Sivarasa Rasiah, an MP with the People’s Justice Party (PKR) said Azam holds shares worth millions of ringgit in two public-listed companies, having acquired them between April 30, 2015 and March 2016.

More disturbingly, Sivarasa raised concerns over a conflict of interest: Azam’s younger brother, identified as Nasir Baki, owns shares in a privately owned “intelligence” company called RI Intelligence, which provides supposedly “intelligence services and claims to be able to do executive searches for those requiring a more extensive background check on certain individuals”.

“The question we are asking is whether there is a conflict of interest with Azam considering his position as the MACC chief commissioner. Can he give his guarantee to the Malaysian public that resources and human resources and facilities of the MACC are not being used or have no connection to the company where his younger brother plays the role of a substantial shareholder, because the ability of the MACC is indeed about investigating and collecting information. This is relevant to the business conducted by that company,” he said.

Azam had taken over the MACC’s top job from Latheefa Koya, a prominent anti-corruption activist who had been appointed to the job by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in March last year.

The 57- year-old began his career with the agency in 1984 as an assistant investigation officer, having climbed the ranks over his 30 plus years in service.