Azam acted within his rights in asking for PSC meeting to be called off, say sources

By Kilo Mike

There is no issue of MACC chief Azam Baki being in contempt of parliament by refusing to turn up for the now-postponed Parliamentary Select Committee meeting, said sources close to him.

They said that opposition lawmakers who shout of Azam being in contempt were simply ignorant or were just using the situation for political mileage.

“First of all, the select committee only invited Azam to the meeting. He was not summoned at all as was provided for under the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders.”

“If he was invited, and given the option to either attend or decline to attend, then the choice is his to make.”

“Secondly, Azam never said he would not attend the meeting. He simply said the meeting, if held on January 19th, would be in breach of the Standing Orders — and he is absolutely correct in this.”

“Maybe the lawmakers would need to go back to be schooled on their Standing Orders,” said a source with intimate knowledge of the issue.

Azam was “invited” to attend the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department on January 19th to discuss his share ownership in two public-listed companies.

On Monday, the committee chairman Kuala Krai MP Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman said the meeting was postponed indefinitely following a letter from Azam to Dewan Rakyat secretary Dr. Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin.

In his letter to Nizam on January 13th, Azam said the hearing was in breach of the Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Orders.

The MACC chief also said he had filed a civil suit over allegations that had been made against him and that he was under investigation by other agencies, including the MACC and the Securities Commission.

Following that Nizam had informed the lawmakers that the scheduled meeting for January 19th had been postponed to a later date as “there were some legal issues that need to be clarified with Parliament’s legal adviser”.

Another source meanwhile said that the legality of the committee in calling for a meeting to discuss allegations against Azam itself was questionable.

He said that, as was pointed out by Azam in his letter to Nizam, the issues pertaining to the character or conduct of any person could only be challenged on a substantive motion, and not directly by the committee.

“This is stated in the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders. How did the committee members, and the other Pakatan Harapan lawmakers miss this? Or were they just keen to steamroll the inquiry to achieve whatever they want?”

“The proper way to do this is to bring a motion in Dewan Rakyat, and if the Speaker allows for it, then to direct it to the committee to start in inquiry.”

“After that, as per the Standing Orders, they should summon witnesses, not just Azam, to find out about the share ownership.”

“But what is happening now is that they are trying to speed up the process, and it looks like they have already decided that Azam is guilty,” said the source.

The sources reiterated that Azam was not baulking from facing the committee but just wanted to protect his interest, especially when investigations by other government agencies are still ongoing.

“He also does not want to jeopardize his civil suit against the journalist who made the claims by revealing to the committee anything that could implicate his case,” the source said.

In his letter to Nizam, Azam had said that he was ready to attend any meetings (called by the committee) if they adhered to “all legal provisions” and “after investigations are completed by the authorities” as well as once “my defamation suit in court is fully settled”.