Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki has demanded a public apology and RM10 million from the whistleblower in his stock trading scandal for alleged defamation.
Free Malaysia Today reported that Lalitha Kunaratnam has been served a letter of demand that also sought the removal of two articles titled “Business ties among MACC leadership: How deep does it go? (Part 1)” and “Business ties among MACC leadership: How deep does it go (Part 2)”.
Lalitha’s two-part article had been published on the Independent News Service website.
Azam gave Lalitha 14 days to comply, failing which he would initiate defamation proceedings against her.
“As indicated in the press conference yesterday (Wednesday, Jan 5), I take a very serious view of the various false and malicious allegations made against me personally, my family, and the MACC.
“As advised by my solicitors, I am now compelled to initiate legal proceedings against Ms Lalitha Kunaratnam.
“I reiterate that I will not hesitate to commence legal proceedings against anyone else who spreads and makes similar false and malicious allegations against me or my family,” he told The Star on Thursday (Jan 6).
Lalitha, meanwhile, has taken to Twitter to post the letter of demand which she had received from the MACC chief commissioner.
“I have received a Letter of Demand from @SPRMMALAYSIA Chief Commissioner. Thanks,” said Lalitha, who goes by the Twitter handle @LalithaVelvet.
Former MACC advisory board member Edmund Terence Gomez called Azam’s letter of demand an act of intimidation, telling him to withdraw the notice immediately as Lalitha had raised a legitimate question of national interest.
“What Azam should be doing is to publicly disclose all his business interests in order to protect the image and integrity of the MACC.
“If whistleblowers were threatened by those in a position of power, how can we make any progress to get citizens to expose corruption and protect them for doing so?” he said.
Yesterday, Azam said in a press conference he had willingly given his brother permission to buy shares using his share trading account and had already given an explanation to the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (LPPR).
Azam added that he has decided to take legal action against those who have tarnished his reputation, although he did not divulge further details such as who would be named in his suit.
Lalitha was also the researcher who wrote the information that former MACC consultation and corruption prevention panel member Edmund Terence Gomez had shared with the panel’s chairman Borhan Dolah and the MACC’s Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairman Abu Zahar Ujang in urging them to take action.
Gomez resigned last month in protest over the lack of action.