Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Chief Chooses to Step Down Aug. 1by
MACC had probed donations made to premier Najib’s account
Government approves commissioner’s third request to quit
The chief of Malaysia’s anti-corruption commission, who was overseeing a probe into donations made to Prime Minister Najib Razak, will step down in August after the government approved his third request to quit the post, the agency said Thursday.
Abu Kassim Mohamed, whose contract as chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was initially to end in December 2018, will vacate the position on Aug. 1, the MACC said in a statement. Abu Kassim, who was appointed to the post in 2010, will serve as an officer in the agency until his mandatory retirement in December 2020, state news service Bernama reported earlier Thursday.
“This is the third time Tan Sri Abu Kassim has applied to end his contract early and it was approved by the government,” the MACC said in the statement, using his local honorific title. “There was no pressure from any party on his decision to shorten his contract,” the agency said.
The MACC in February said its operations review panel advised the agency to continue an investigation into millions of dollars donated to Najib, setting up a potential battle with the attorney general who ordered the closure of the probe in January. The MACC had earlier submitted the results of its investigation to the attorney general, along with proposals and recommendations for action in the case.
Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali in January closed the door on the graft investigation, clearing Najib of wrongdoing over a “personal contribution” of $681 million from the Saudi Arabian royal family in early 2013, and money from a company linked to a state investment fund that appeared in his personal bank accounts.
Apandi on Jan. 26 said he was satisfied no criminal offense had been committed and ordered the MACC to close the investigation papers. Under the constitution, any criminal proceedings can only be initiated by the attorney general. Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The government rejected Abu Kassim’s two previous requests to step down, and urged him to remain in the post, the MACC said. He made a third application to quit after accepting an offer from the International Anti-Corruption Academy, according to the statement. After stepping down in August, Abu Kassim will focus on his role at the academy and other responsibilities as a lecturer, researcher and consultant, the MACC said.
A transformation to bolster the commission’s institutional independence is still ongoing, and the government will give careful consideration to Abu Kassim’s successor, said Paul Low, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, in a statement Thursday. The new commissioner should ideally be drawn from the existing pool of MACC officers who have worked alongside Abu Kassim, Low said.
Abu Kassim’s “works over the years in establishing MACC as a professional body which has gained public trust must be continued without intermission or interruption,” Low said. “The country’s reputation for good governance must be safeguarded without compromise.”