KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 — The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) today questioned the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) independence after its chief commissioner defended the deputy prime minister’s seemingly conditional promise of a grant.

Muda secretary-general Amir Abd Hadi said Tan Sri Azam Baki has cast doubt on his agency’s neutrality by portraying Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s pledge as an ordinary government initiative.

“Whether the statement issued is correct or wrong, the MACC’s image has been tarnished and many have questioned its independence.

“Muda is once again calling for the MACC to be placed under Parliament.

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“Its chief commissioner must not be appointed on the advice of the prime minister,” he said in a statement.

Amir said it was general knowledge that a protest against Azam was organised by those who are now part of the government over the latter’s purported involvement in a share trading controversy in January 2022.

“Yet when the government changed, the new government failed to commence a new probe, but even reappointed him (Azam).

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“For the longest time, our partners in Pakatan Harapan were against government allocations being used for political interest, what more during election season,” he said.

At an event in Dungun on Friday, Zahid announced grants of RM250,000 to the Terengganu Malaysia Youth Council, RM200,000 to motorcycle teams throughout the state, and RM100,000 to the Central Terengganu Development Authority (Ketengah) youth association.

Zahid, through his portfolio in the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, also said the amount may be increased depending on the performance of youth in the state election in Terengganu on August 12, saying he is confident the “blue and red wave” will change the political tide of Terengganu in this state polls with the support of youth leaders and voters aged between 18 and 30 and 31 to 40 in the state.

In response, electoral reform group Bersih has also called for the government not to abuse its power with federal ministries and agencies announcing policies and allocations ahead of the six state elections.