We, in the Malaysian academic movement Gerak, are deeply concerned about the recent resignation of the respected scholar, Dr Edmund Terence Gomez, from an advisory panel of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
This and his revelations about possible conflicts of interest in the MACC require an immediate response from the parties concerned and an open and independent investigation led by a bipartisan parliamentary committee.
Unfortunately, both have not been forthcoming in the week or so after Dr Gomez publicly outlined the background to his resignation.
Instead, we have witnessed defensive, deflective statements being reported in the media, contradicting Dr Gomez and seemingly attacking him for his public expose.
More despicably, paid ‘cyber-troopers’ have attempted to twist Dr Gomez’s concerns into a racial issue. Some contemptible old habits from a politically perverted playbook evidently die hard.
But let us not be distracted by such vile antics. We in Gerak can attest to the fact that Dr Gomez – one of Malaysia’s top political economists – is an academic of impeccable character. He does not make baseless accusations. His whole distinguished career bears testament to his unquestionable integrity.
Gerak reiterates that all academics are expected to contribute to the improvement of society. This does not mean just using our knowledge to advance society in a narrow sense. We also need to be the conscience of society, to analyse and criticise wrongdoing, to speak truth to power, and to propose changes.
This is what Dr Gomez has done, carrying out his duties as an academic, as a public intellectual. He has done this in an open manner, not like conniving individuals and parties acting surreptitiously away from the public gaze and for their selfish interests.
The events prior to and after Dr Gomez’s resignation have been openly brought up and reported elsewhere. It is about publicly alleged impropriety and conflict of interest by MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki.
Indeed, in this regard, it has been reported that “On Dec 14, Sungai Buloh MP Sivarasa Rasiah had filed an urgent motion for the Dewan Rakyat to discuss Azam’s alleged ownership of close to two million shares in a public listed company” (New Straits Times online, 28 December 2021).
These are serious developments that must be thoroughly investigated. Instead, the top guns in the MACC advisory panel appear to have gone the other way around, insisting that they never received Dr Gomez’s emails urging them to investigate the allegations against Azam.
Surely, it doesn’t really matter whether they received Gomez’s emails. Surely, even without receiving any email, they would have been aware of the allegations and, as leading members of a panel advising the MACC, a bulb would have lit up in their heads, alerting them to do what they are supposed to do as leaders of such a panel.
Alleging now that they received no alert or request from Dr Gomez really means nothing in the overall scheme of things. If they are not willing to respond, we in Gerak believe that the Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaacob, must do so, since the MACC falls under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Gerak stresses that the following must be initiated immediately.
First, the PM must initiate an independent investigation into the allegations, preferably by a bipartisan parliamentary committee.Second, Azam Baki must be sent on ‘garden leave’ until the investigations are duly completed and he is cleared.
Third, Dr Gomez must be duly acknowledged and thanked by the country’s current regime for his service to the country and not be harangued for simply doing his job.
The credibility of the MACC is being questioned. It is now actually under intense public scrutiny. Press conferences by the MACC will resolve nothing.
The Ismail Sabri regime must investigate this development in a transparent manner since the MACC is under its watch. There must be no cover-up. – Gerak