When Investigative Journalism Amounts To Sheer Incompetence
The press statement issued on behalf of Ms. Lalitha Kunaratnam by her lawyer is a perfect example of what happens when self-styled investigative journalists are incompetent and do not actually investigate but make only unsubstantiated claims.
It also appears that her lawyer has a similar work ethic to Ms. Kunaratnam in that he has also failed to properly research the facts before going to print – the MACC Chief Commissioners Solicitors are in fact Messrs. Zain, Megat and Murad not Messrs. Zain, Megat and Hamid!!!
In the second last paragraph of the press release published by her lawyer, he also had completely misrepresented the Police report filed by the Senior Assistant Commissioner of the MACC as referred to in the article published in MalaysiaNow on 8 January 2022 (https://www.malaysianow.com/news/2022/01/08/macc-files-police-report-says-claims-against-azam-false-and-unverified/).
The Police report is not an attempt to clear the Chief Commissioner’s name as alleged by her lawyer, it is a report stating that her articles accuse ALL senior enforcement officials of corruption merely due to involvement in business or holding shares. In short, his report concludes that her article is using the “same brush to tar the entire senior law enforcement officials”.
In making the Police report, the MACC have NOT conducted an investigation into its own affairs – the Police report by the Senior Assistant Commissioner concerns the accusations made against all senior enforcement officials, regardless of agency.
Aside from that point, how is invoking a Police investigation an example of the MACC investigating its own affairs? Does the lawyer not understand that the Police are a separate organisation to the MACC?
The articles published by her have gone to great lengths to describe various holdings in a number of entities, and yet has completely failed to form any link between the Chief Commissioner of the MACC and the companies.
The article is clearly written in bad faith and in such a way that tries to make it look like the Chief Commissioner is linked to the various companies and activities described of “similar companies”, implying that this is what the companies in the articles are actually doing, in an attempt to make the Chief Commissioner of the MACC look bad. Not only has she failed to completely prove or expose any link, but she has failed to even establish and proof of the activities of the companies described.
The case in point is RI Intelligence Sdn Bhd. She alleges what typical activities of entities of this type are, which are quite nefarious, as if to say that this is what RI Intelligence is actually doing. She then slips a small line in at the end stating that not enough is known of RI Intelligence’s activities to prove that they are actually doing any of these activities! Very very naughty indeed for a self styled Investigative Journalist to do this!!!
You can guarantee that if any such link existed, or could be proved, it would have been published. As it has not, clearly no link exists – either to the activities of the companies or any link between the Chief Commissioner and the companies.
On top of this, there was a press conference where the issue of the shares held in Gets Global Berhad and warrants held in Excel Force MSC Berhad was properly explained by the Chief Commissioner. He explained, quite openly and truthfully to the public – on the record, that he was merely a nominee holder of the shares, and had no beneficial interest. Obviously she don’t have a very good understanding of the concept of trust and how this works in the context of purchase of securities on behalf of someone!!
The simple fact is that in Malaysia, it is perfectly legal for someone to hold shares for the benefit of someone else. This is exactly the case here – the Chief Commissioner has openly and clearly stated that he has no beneficial interest, and has never hidden this fact. He has acted properly, within the law at all times throughout this matter. He did not conceal this fact.
As for the claims that Dato’ Sri Lim Kok Han and Mohd Aswadi Mat Zain are acting as a proxy for the Chief Commissioner of the MACC. Where is the proof? There is none! This is another false allegation. The article itself states after nearly two pages of false accusations that, “there is scarce evidence to accuse Kok Han and Aswadi as Azam Baki’s proxies”. The fact is that this is another accusation published by her that cannot be proved because it is simply not true. In other words, it is a blatant LIE.
Ms. Kunaratnam is on very shaky ground here.
An investigative journalist has an obligation to properly investigate any accusations or suspicions and obtain some sort of evidence before publishing a story. Absent any investigation, they cannot call themselves an investigative journalist.
Clearly, she has failed to properly investigate the story, and has published before she has managed to obtain any evidence of a link or any facts corroborating the accusations in the articles.
I have no doubt that she welcomes calls from both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister concerning the false accusations – she has been too lazy to find any proof for herself before publishing the articles.
The problem with her articles, is that they have left the impression with the public that the Chief Commissioner has abused his position, or that there is something untoward going on. It is only if you carefully “read between the lines” of her articles that you see from the articles themselves that there is nothing to substantiate any of the contents of the articles.
This has resulted in various people calling for the Chief Commissioner to stand down while an independent enquiry is carried out.
This is entirely unreasonable – why should someone stand down when they have committed no offences, have acted within the bounds of the law, and a self-styled journalist publishes suspicions without adequate research? Of course there are now independent investigations being carried out – both by the Securities Commission (which will have full records of any share transactions and should already know the facts), and the Police, following the report made by none other than the MACC Officer.
Even the Prime Minister has called for people not to jump to conclusions and assume guilt.
It is a shame and in fact a disgrace that she had not taken a more professional approach to her work and conducted an actual investigation before publishing.
The articles were first published before any attempts were made to contact the Chief Commissioner of the MACC. Besides that all important fact, showing a total lack of investigation of the facts, there is more to conducting an investigation than making two attempts to contact the subject of your articles by way of a whatsapp message or message left with an assistant. That is just being lazy and incompetent!!
Publishing accusations such as these without having any facts or any evidence is just publishing lies. Not only is this worthy of the action taken by the Chief Commissioner in issuing the Letter of Demand, but it is a criminal offence to publish false news which in effect are LIES.
I am eager to see the outcome of both the Police and Securities Commission’s involvement in this matter, and also the outcome of the defamation case to be initiated by the Chief Commissioner.
Dr Kassim Noor Mohamed
A Concerned Criminologist