Mariam Mokhtar: This is how the Azam scandal brewed…and brewed…and brewed…

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The man in charge of investigating corrupt acts is himself implicated in dodgy dealings.

Shafwan Zaidon

To make it easy for everyone to understand how this Azam Baki, head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission scandal brewed and brewed till it could not be contained any longer, I have created this timeline of the allegations against Azam, the man who is supposed to lead and protect the nation against corrupt individuals and institutions.

That is the irony of Malaysian governance. The man in charge of investigating corrupt acts is himself implicated in dodgy dealings.

The timeline is done to the best of my knowledge from news reports available on the net.

As far as I can make out, the scandal was first exposed before 26 October by a blog and was then picked up by Lalitha Kunaratnam, an investigative journalist.

No…it was not me…it was my bludder…

Putrajaya’s modus operandi. Sit tight and pray the scandal will go away.

This much I have observed over the years studying how the authorities deal with serious allegations like this Azam scandal.

When serious allegations hit Putrajaya or the Ketuanan types, the trend is to do nothing and hope that the problem will go away.

Therefore, for two-and-a-half months, Azam did not publicly respond to the allegations.

First, they sit on the allegation and hope it goes away. Of course, it won’t!

That is why on 6 January, Azam became Public Bully Number One and sued Lalitha.

TIMELINE:

On 26 October, Investigative journalist, Lalitha Kunaratnam who is also a consultant researcher for an anti-corruption agency, publishes an article in the Independent News Service (INS), about the allegations made by the blog, “Edisi Siasat”.

In her article, Lalitha detailed the allegations of “Edisi Siasat” which said that the Chief Commissioner of the MACC is linked to several companies, some of which constitute a conflict of interest especially as he heads the MACC.

After the publication of Lalitha’s article, INS suffers a DDOS attack and is offline for several days.

On 12 November, a member of the MACC’s Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel, Edmund Terence Gomez, alerts the panel’s chairman, Borhan Dolah, and tells him about Azam’s alleged ownership of around two million shares in a public listed company. He requested an urgent meeting to discuss the “critical issue of national interest”.

Borhan’s response towards Gomez’s request is lukewarm, and in the end, fizzled out to nothing.

Gomez wrote twice more to Borhan. This time, he included more information about Azam’s family’s business dealings. He mentioned that the website which had published the allegations had been hacked soon after the articles about Azam had been uploaded.

Gomez also wrote to the chairman of the MACC’s Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, Abu Zahar Nika Ujang. In each of his three communications, he relayed the same information that Borhan had received. However, Abu Zahar failed to respond

On 14 December, the Harapan MP for Sungai Buloh R Sivarasa, filed an urgent motion in parliament, seeking the Dewan Rakyat to discuss Azam’s alleged ownership of close to two million shares in a public-listed company.

On 27 December, having failed to convince either Abu Zahar or Borhan about the seriousness of the Azam scandal, Gomez was forced to tender his resignation. He expressed deep regret that both men were “unconscionable” and “extremely irresponsible”.

On 5 January, when the pressure grew too intense, and more people showed interest, Azam issued a daft statement that said he “did not immediately respond to allegations on his shareholdings because he believed he had done nothing wrong.”

Behind the scenes and climax

Whilst Azam may have acted like nothing was happening, what the public did not know, was that behind the scenes, the news website, INS, which published investigative journalist, Lalitha’s article about Azam, suffered a DDOS attack and was brought down for several days.

At the same time, the website which first exposed the allegations was hacked.

Then when things come to a head, and interest in the wrongdoing snowballs, what do these people do…they SUE SUE SUE….

That is why on 6 January Azam demanded an apology from Lalitha and RM10 million in damages.

Hogwash and Podah! – Rebuilding Malaysia