Dewan Rakyat Speaker says ‘narrative’ that Azam Baki refused to appear before Select Committee inaccurate

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Speaker stressed that he did not have the power to compel an individual to appear before the Committee.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun said today he disagreed with the “narrative” that Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Tan Sri Azam Baki had refused to appear before the Parliamentary Select Committee to explain the allegations of proxy stock trading.

Azhar said while he “personally” supported the argument that Azam is legally bound to answer to the committee once summoned, the Speaker felt the MACC chief commissioner gave a reasonable excuse not to appear before the panel, which prompted its chairman to postpone the meeting indefinitely.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for Agencies Under the Prime Minister’s Department, which oversees the MACC, is the Kuala Krai MP from PAS, Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman.

“Tan Sri Azam Baki was quoted as saying that he wasn’t subpoenaed but ‘invited’ by the committee. I disagree. In fact, I strongly disagree with the statement, if the statement was indeed made by him,” Azhar said before explaining that Azam was summoned under Parliament’s Standing Order 83(2), which did not state anywhere that a subpoena is required.

“83(2) did not state anywhere that a person must be subpoenaed but instead used the word summon. So, by summoning that entails that a letter can be produced to summon a person either sternly or softly,” he added.

Norafifi Ehsan/The Star

“However, Tan Sri Azam Baki had written a letter raising legal issues to which the (select committee) chairman himself then said they would need legal advice, which postponed the hearing (indefinitely)…so the question that he had refused does not arise.”

Previously, Azam had said that he did not appear before the Committee as it was an invitation for him to attend the meeting and not a subpoena.

Azam had said that if it was a subpoena, he would have attended because as an enforcement officer, he knew the law and would respect it.

Azhar’s defence of Azam came after the DAP MP for Kota Melaka Khoo Poay Tiong had tried to raise the matter under Standing Order 83(2), and sought the Speaker to make a ruling.

Khoo said the Standing Order empowers the select committee to summon any government official to appear before the committee.

Khoo is one of four Opposition members of the select committee. The four had protested against the postponement.

Azhar also stressed that he did not have the power to compel an individual to appear before the Committee under 83(2).

He added that he does not get involved in any committee in Parliament.

“It is not in my power to call anyone or stop anyone from being called. There is no power (given) to me to call anyone to attend the PSC (meeting),” he said.

“Only the PSC has the right to call anyone. We have to follow what is stated in the standing order.”