KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang hit out at the media today, accusing them of playing judge and executioner in the stock trading controversy implicating the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Tan Sri Azam Baki.

Abdul Hadi took to Facebook to lament the way the press had covered the fiasco, taking aim at the concept of press freedom that he suggested was responsible for putting the MACC chief commissioner in the imbroglio that has called the latter’s credibility into question.

The PAS president, who himself has been severely criticised for having done little as special envoy to the Middle East with a ministerial pay-grade as well as member of Parliament, claimed that government officials accused of power abuse and corruption have often been found guilty even if the courts have yet to do so, which he attributed to press freedom as advocated by the West.

Hadi said he viewed this concept of free press, which he described as portraying the media playing “the voice of God”, as flawed and prevents “clean” political leaders and government officials from being effective.

“Lately we are seeing the media play the role of the whistleblower by exposing the alleged wrongdoings of individuals even before they are put before the judicial system. Such an approach is based on the concept of free press espoused by the West that enshrines democracy, that the voice of the people is the voice of God,” the Marang MP said.

“This concept is a renewed ancient democratic belief that is captured in the phrase: Vox populi vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God). Are all Western ideas to be taken uncritically to the point of creating confusion and false narratives that mislead?” he asked.

Azam has been under public scrutiny in recent weeks over his acquisition of millions of shares in two public-listed companies back in 2015.

The MACC chief commissioner has maintained that he had done nothing wrong, that the shares bought since then were by his brother. 

The Securities Commission has said it would call Azam in for questioning over possible conflict of interest after he admitted to proxy stock trading.

Hadi’s post criticising press freedom was published on his official Facebook page this morning. 

While he did not explicitly mention Azam’s name, the post was ostensibly a reference to the allegations surrounding the MACC chief.

News about Azam’s holding of shares in several companies were brought to light by a freelance investigative journalist in December last year, and had received keen public interest.

In his post, Hadi suggested that the case was yet another example of the media manipulating public opinion to punish good political leaders and government servants.

“It is catastrophic for a human to bring about something that drags the people into doing something wrong. And in doing so, disturbs leaders and public servants who are genuinely carrying out the tasks entrusted to them by Allah SWT,” he said.

Anti-corruption watchdogs have called for an independent body to investigate the allegations against Azam, such as a Parliamentary Select Committee. 

Three senior MACC officers issued a joint statement proclaiming their full support for Azam and decrying the criticisms against him as politically motivated “attacks” tarnishing the commission as a public institution.

The statement was signed by Datuk Seri Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya, Datuk Seri Norazlan Mohd Razali and Datuk Junipah Wahid who are the deputy chief commissioners in charge of operations, prevention and management and professionalism respectively.