Commentary Politics

The curious case of Shukri Abdull’s re-employment

Shukri Abdull cash king

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

June 2, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: DOUBTS have been raised over the re-employment and promotion of Datuk Seri Mohd. Shukri Abdull as the Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) effective May 21, in one of the decisions affecting several senior officers following the victory by Pakatan Harapan in the May 9 general elections.

The irony is that even the man himself is unsure over the legality of his appointment.

The peculiarity shrouding Shukri’s appointment was brought up by a former civil servant who pointed out that the re-employment may have violated the General Orders (GO) of the Public Service Department.

To the unfamiliar, the GO is basically a set of rules governing the country’s civil servants. It outlines various regulations ranging from complex allowance and overtime calculations down to the most basic prescribed working hours.

Shukri’s appointment however is believed to have contradicted an article which deals with the re-employment of anyone who has resigned from public service.

According to Section 2, Article 7 of the GO, any permanent officer who has resigned shall not be reappointed into the public service except with the special permission of the Commission, after considering the report from the head of department where the officer had served prior to his resignation on the reason for his/her resignation.

Staff of MACC confirmed that despite the status of the agency, they are members of the public service and that the  GO affect them just as much any other government employee.

Legal and constitutional experts who spoke under the condition of anonymity explained that while the Agong has the power to appoint anyone to be the chief commissioner, the appointee must be a member of the public service.

“Shukri must first be re-employed into the public service and to that end, the then chief commissioner (Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad) must endorse him to the Public Service Commission,” was the general opinion echoed by these lawyers.

At the time of his appointment, it was not made known publicly if these conditions had been met, with Shukri’s tell-all May 22 press conference seeming to suggest it wasn’t.

According to Shukri – who opted an early retirement as deputy chief commissioner on July 31, 2016 – he accepted Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s offer for the post on May 14, adding that he was supposed to start working on May 18.

Interestingly, the day Shukri accepted the offer coincided with the resignation of Dzulkifli, the very person who according to the GO, needed to meet the PSC and endorse Shukri in order to make him qualify for the post.

While repeated attempts to get a clarification from Dzulkifli were unsuccessful, high-ranking officers from the PSC and the PSD did mention that they had not had any meeting with the MACC after May 9.

Even more telling was Shukri’s response over a query if his re-employment had gone through the PSD.

“I myself am not sure over the terms of my appointment. Why don’t you try ask the PSC? I’m afraid I’ll give you the wrong information,” read Shukri’s one-liner via WhatsApp.

When the matter was brought to their attention, various prominent and erudite figures who used to talk freely suddenly clamped up on something that they would have been more than happy to talk during the era of the previous government.

The ones who did insisted that the curious case of Shukri’s appointment was not that big a deal.

“This is a technicality issue and it can be rectified later. The most important thing is that they got the right person for the right job,” said former senior civil servant Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam in reference to MACC’s probe on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad controversy.

But doing two wrongs to make things right doesn’t seem to gel with the current administration’s assurance that, under their reign, everything will be done according to the rule of law.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]