PETALING JAYA: The initial price of shares owned by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki in a public-listed company was not expensive, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) said when the shares were first purchased back in 2016, the one million shares was only valued at RM330,000 – between 30 sen and 33 sen per share.

“The current number of shares that he (Azam) is holding was accumulated over the years.

“Based on the initial price, it was not an expensive share to acquire.

“I believe it is affordable to many of us.

“For those who are active stock market traders, it is also normal to gradually increase your shareholding over time, especially when you see the potential,” he said, adding that there was no law or regulations preventing government servants from acquiring shares in public-listed companies.

Wan Junaidi said that under the Public Officers Regulations Act (Conduct and Discipline) 1993, government servants were only prohibited from trading in futures markets – locally and abroad – while those who own shares in public-listed companies were required to declare them as assets.

On demands to place the MACC under Parliament, he said it was not a simple matter and needed to be looked into carefully.

“In order for the MACC to be effective, it needs to operate independently.

“Its establishment under the MACC Act ensures the commission’s independence and this should not be compromised in any way,” he said in a statement.

In response, four members of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department described Wan Junaidi’s remarks as “disappointing”.

In a joint statement, Chan Foong Hin (Kota Kinabalu), Khoo Poay Tiong (Kota Melaka), Azis Jamman (Sepanggar) and William Leong (Selayang) said the buying of the shares was not just an issue of affordability.

“It is a question of conflict of interest and a question of integrity.

“It is also a question of the deficit of the people’s trust in the MACC as an eradicator of corruption. He (Wan Junaidi) seems to have ignored all these questions,” they said.On Wednesday, Azam told a media conference that he had explained to the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board that he had given his younger brother permission to use his trading account to acquire shares in the open market sometime in 2015.

Azam also said he had informed his superiors about it back then and that his brother had transferred the shares to his own account a year later.

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy also disagreed with Wan Junaidi’s explanation.

“It is not about civil servants acquiring shares or trading in the shares market. It is about the integrity of civil servants – whether they are allowed to engage in such activities when they should be focused on their jobs,” he said.

Wan Junaidi should interpret the law by reading together with the general orders stipulated by the Public Service Department, he said in a Facebook post yesterday.