Despite undergoing a series of transformations over the last 50 years, MACC deputy commissioner of operations Mohd Azam Baki said one thing that has remained constant is the commission’s independence in carrying out its duties.
Speaking as a guest on MACC’s talkshow on the Bernama radio station this morning, Azam expressed confidence that the graftbuster has not bowed to pressure from any parties since its establishment on Oct 1, 1967, when it was known as the Corruption Prevention Agency (BPR).
“If we look at our track record, we can say that no one has been spared from investigations by BPR until the current MACC.
“I have met with BPR’s first director and several directors who followed, up until the current chief commissioner, and I daresay that we have never bowed down to any parties,” he stressed.
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Azam also reiterated that the outcome of all MACC investigations are handed over to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, which then decides whether to proceed with pressing charges.
Quizzed on public perception towards the commission, Azam said that its procedures have remained the same over the years, but the public are now more exposed to more unverified information, particularly on social media.
“MACC is not too keen on responding to every negative perception out there because it has gone out of control.
“Most important for us is that our actions must be based on the law,” he said, while adding that he had risen through MACC’s ranks since 1984.
Azam also pointed out that following BPR’s transformation into MACC in 1999, it had also set-up five independent monitoring panels, including one in charge of reviewing cases closed either by the commission or by the AGC.
“Since 2009, I think there were a number of cases, although I don’t have the exact figure with me, wherein the operations review panel had instructed them to be reopened and the suspects subsequently charged in court.
“The MACC and prosecutors cannot always assume they have made the right decisions,” he said.
On calls for the MACC to be given prosecution powers, Azam said it is not a common practice in most modern democracies in line with the principle of the separation of powers.
“I am worried if MACC is investigating and also prosecuting, there will be a perception that we are abusing our powers.
“There will be no check and balance,” he stressed, adding that any such move would also require amendments to Section 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, which states that the AG has the power “to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence.”