MACC urged to provide full figures of corruption cases not just in Penang but other states so a comparison could be made.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki has hit back at Lim Guan Eng over the former Penang chief minister’s unhappiness with his statement about the level of corruption in developed states, including Penang.
He said Lim should listen carefully to what he had said in the radio interview yesterday about the country’s corruption situation before getting all jumpy about it.
“What is he confused about? I never said Penang is the most corrupted state.
“I only said that developed states such Penang, Johor, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur — where there is a high volume of business transactions involving projects — are exposed to abuse of power. This is where they are exposed to corruption, and such cases are prevalent.
“My comment was to create awareness, especially in these states, about the types of (corruption) cases that can occur,” Azam said, adding what he said had been aired over a radio station.
“If he (Lim) is still not happy (about the matter), the audio of the interview is out there… he can listen to it at any time.”
Azam added that he had pointed out the same thing in Sarawak a few years ago to remind the state government about corrupt practices there and the need to remain vigilant.
He said it was never his intention to make comparisons on the level of corruption of the country’s states.
In the special interview with Penang’s Mutiara FM yesterday, Azam said states robust with development were the ones most beset with corruption.
He had said this may be caused by their higher volume of business transactions, which translated into a greater tendency for criminal activities to happen.
He had said compared with the other states, these modern and urbanised states, which had been seeing steady levels of progress, had also created opportunities for corruption through the scores of available development projects.
Azam’s remarks did not sit well with Lim, who is on trial for corruption involving the proposed RM6.3 billion Penang Undersea Tunnel project.
He said Azam should have refrained from making unbacked claims of rife corruption in Penang, adding that he found Azam’s statement to be perplexing.
He said because of the CAT administration (the principles of good governance, competency, accountability and transparency, practised by the state since 2008) during his time, the number of corruption cases was low.
“Basically, there was no avenue for corruption when we practised open tenders. Don’t forget, every year we were praised in the Auditor-General’s Report.
“And Penang still remains the only state government in Malaysia to be praised by Transparency International (TI). Tell me any other state government that has been praised by TI? No. Only Penang. Don’t even talk about the federal government.
“So now you say, in the last two years, that civil servants are more corrupt? Show me the proof, just like what Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said.
“Don’t make political statements. He (Azam) is acting like a politician,” he said.
Earlier, Chow said the MACC should be transparent and reveal the number of cases taken to court as well as the number of convictions, instead of just telling the public about the number of complaints it has received.
“We demand transparency on the part of MACC as we do not want the image of Penang civil servants and the state government to be tarnished only by account of the number of complaints received since 2019,” he said in a statement.
Chow was responding to Azam’s remarks yesterday that MACC had received a total of 919 complaints against civil servants in Penang for alleged corruption since 2019.
Azam had said the complaints they received related to accepting bribes, abuse of power and making false claims among civil servants in Penang.
Chow said his DAP-led state government is ready to work with the MACC to nip corruption within the civil service.
“Penang welcomes MACC’s investigation of the crime of corruption involving civil servants in the state as this is in line with the CAT principles of good governance; competency, accountability and transparency practised since 2008,” he said.
He stressed that no one is above the law and civil servants found to have accepted bribes, abused their power and made false claims must be investigated and charged as soon as possible.
In a separate statement, Lim Kit Siang also challenged the MACC to provide the full figures of corruption cases not just in Penang but other states so a comparison could be made.
“What are the figures for the other states in Malaysia and what is the time-frame that Azam is talking about?
He also asked the MACC to make a distinction between federal and state civil servants.
“Regardless of the state concerned, bribery and power abuse cases must be wiped out if they are ‘worrying’,” he added.
He also suggested that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department summon Azam for an explanation on his remarks.
“The PSC on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department has many uncompleted and new business for which an urgent meeting in the first week of the October Parliament is justified so that it could submit its first report to Dewan Rakyat by October itself,” Lim said.