Kuala Lumpur – It seems to be an eventful time for Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Azam Baki these few days.
He was said to have filed a defamation suit against whistleblower Lalitha Kunaratnam over her articles published in the Independent News Service (INS) news portal last year. At the same time, the MACC chief has been ordered to appear before the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) on the Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department for a meeting on 19 Jan over his controversial company shares ownership.
According to a statement by his legal counsel, Megat Abdul Munir, they have filed a defamation suit against Lalitha Kunaratnam at the Kuala Lumpur High Court through law firm Messrs Zain Megat & Murad.
“Instead of responding to our client’s Letter of Demand issued on 06 Jan, she has through her lawyer issued a press statement published on her Twitter account, wherein she has claimed to stand by her publication and republication, the contents of which our client strenuously maintains are defamatory.
“Our client is therefore constrained to file this suit before the expiry of 14 days from the date of the Letter of Demand to protect his good name, reputation and professional standing.
“In doing so, our client was merely asserting his rights as enshrined by the Federal Constitution and applicable laws, to seek the necessary and appropriate reliefs from the court and our client strongly believes that this will also provide the defendant a similar right and opportunity to justify her claims in court and not merely engage in a trial by the media,“ the lawyer said.
Megat said his client will not be making any further statements in relation to the matter and will leave it to the court to hear and decide accordingly.
“Lastly, our client wishes to make clear his unwavering commitment that the MACC will always protect all whistleblowers who fall within the ambit of the Whistleblower Protection Act,” he added.
Meanwhile, PSC member Chan Foong Hin said Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha wrote a letter to Azam asking him to attend the meeting set for next Wednesday.
“As far as I know, only Azam has been summoned to the PSC meeting,” he told Malaysiakini when asked if the PSC also called in MACC Advisory Board chairperson Abu Zahar Ujang.
On whether Azam has confirmed his attendance, Chan pointed out provisions in the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 to prescribe for the order of attendance of any witness.
Under Section 16 of the Act, Parliament or any committee under it may order any person to attend before the House or before such a committee, and to produce any paper, book, record or document in their possession or under the control of such person.
Another PSC member, William Leong, said the PSC report will be tabled to the Dewan Rakyat after the inquiry into Azam’s share ownership is completed.
Any proposal related to the ownership of the shares can only be done after the inquiry, he added.
“The committee’s report will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat to all MPs and the people so that they will have access to the information,” the Selayang MP was quoted as saying by Malay daily Sinar Harian.
Azam came under scrutiny recently after allegations surfaced about him having owned shares in two companies back in 2015.
Opposition lawmakers had demanded the matter surrounding Azam’s share ownership to be referred to a parliamentary committee as MACC’s oversight bodies failed to deal with the matter accordingly.
The push on this came after Abu Zahar cleared Azam of any wrongdoing on 05 Jan. – New Malaysia Herald