Public interest in his answer is intense as it would throw light on whether the ACA is going to graduate to greater independence and professionalism in the new decade, or whether it would continue to be a “toothless tiger” not only against the high and mighty in government and business, but even against the people in middling levels with only power to act against the small fries.
Apart from his failure to act against the high and mighty despite the
benefit of operating under the new Prevention of Corruption Act 1997
with expanded powers and increased penalities for corruption offences,
Zaki had made quite a good impression in his two-year tenure as ACA director-general.
Since Zaki had loyally rallied beyond the call of duty to the anti-Anwar Ibrahim campaign of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad before the 1999 general election, as in his disgraceful reactions to the baseless statutory declaration by former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid that Anwar had amassed a fortune of RM3 billion while in government through 20 "Master Accounts"; had scrupulously left the “high and mighty” alone in his anti-corruption drive and made quite a good impression as far as fighting corruption at other levels are concerned, why was he suddenly dropped as ACA chief although he was given an assurance on his re-appointment up to the very last minute?
I could only think of one case in Zaki’s two-year tenure as ACA chief which might have blotted his copy-book with the powerful - his pursuit of the RM11 billion Perwaja Steel scandal.
In early February, Zaki announced a breakthrough in ACA investigations into the Perwaja Steel scandal and promised that the six-year long investigations would “shift into full gear” with the Swiss government agreeing to help with several Swiss bank accounts the ACA was after.
Could it be that this ACA breakthrough in the six-year investigations into the Perwaja Steel Scandal was not regarded as a “plus” but a “minus” for those who matter in deciding whether to renew his term as ACA director-general?
The announcement that former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman has been appointed economic adviser to the Prime Minister reminded Malaysians that just as the “downfall” of Zaki’s predecessor as ACA director-general Datuk Shafee Yahya was the ACA investigations into Ali Abul when he was Economic Planning Unit director-general, was the Perwaja investigations and breakthrough the “downfall” of Zaki as ACA director-general?