Lawyers: Azam wrong about parliamentary panel’s powers

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Three lawyers have dismissed arguments by top graft-buster Azam Baki against a hearing by a parliamentary committee into his shareholdings, saying he was wrong in his contentions.

Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the committee would be acting within its powers to investigate the allegations and had the right to recommend the next course of action to the government.

Azhar Mahfof/The Star

He said parliamentary committees have the power to subpoena Azam or his legal team to attend the meeting, and it should go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday with members discussing the terms of reference of the meeting if Azam does not attend.

Azam, who is head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, had sought a deferment of the meeting.

Parliament secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin said yesterday the meeting had been postponed pending a reference to Parliament’s legal adviser.

Azam had argued that the committee discussions might be considered sub judice as he had filed a defamation suit against a whistleblower who wrote about his shareholdings.

But Jelutong MP RSN Rayer, a lawyer, rejected the argument, while another lawyer, M Manoharan, said sub judice applied only to criminal cases.

Rayer dismissed Azam’s contention that the hearing might be a breach of parliamentary privileges. “The hearing also gives Azam an opportunity to explain himself that there is no abuse of power and corruption,” he said.

Azam is alleged to have bought millions of shares and warrants in public-listed companies with a value over the RM100,000 cap on equity holdings by civil servants.

He has since explained that his brother, Nasir, had bought the shares using his account, which were then transferred to Nasir’s account shortly after. – FMT