‘Tough to change perception that MACC is a political tool’

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki acknowledged the uphill battle to change the perception that the MACC is used as a political weapon.

(NST) – He said the public must understand that the commission’s duty is to investigate complaints or claims of corruption, regardless of the people or organisation involved, and it cannot conjure corruption cases out of nothing.

“This perception is difficult to change because it takes an educated and mature society to understand the legal processes involved.

“I’ve been telling people that we have separation of powers in this country: the executive, legislature and judiciary.

“And I’ve also been telling people that we will only investigate when there’s a complaint. But do you think people believe that?”

He said the MACC had investigated cases involving members of parties from both sides of the political divide, such as the Penang undersea tunnel project, Jana Wibawa programme and 1Malay-sia Development Bhd scandal.

“With these three (cases), I think they are enough to show the stress I have been under since 2015,” he said in jest.

“In 2015, I served under the Barisan Nasional administration. In 2018, I was under a new government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Then it was Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and now Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“I hope that by now the public understands how the MACC works. Since 2009, we have been monitored by five oversight bodies and we’ve introduced a new structure to be seen as independent.”

Azam said after the MACC completed an investigation, the case would be referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (A-GC) for further action. He said without facts, witnesses and evidence to support corruption claims, the MACC would not get the A-GC’s consent to prosecute.

“We have lost many cases. Under our current prime minister, we had one case involving a minister, whom I shall not name. After investigations, there was no evidence to charge him.

“What can I do? Do you expect me to charge and investigate all ministers? I cannot be swayed by pressure from the public or any politician.”