After Abu Kassim Mohamed asked for his contract to be terminated as the MACC Chief two years before his term ends, insisting that there was no pressure on him to step down, Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa named Dzulkifli Ahmad as the successor
Dzulkifli was previously at the office of Attorney General Apandi Ali
There, he is believed to have played a role in helping clear PM Najib over the 1MDB scandal and RM2.6 billion case of the mysterious donations, Malaysiakini reported.
In fact, Dzulkifli was sitting right next to the A-G when Apandi, in a press conference on 26 January, announced there were no grounds to file criminal charges against Najib.
On 28 July, the Malay Mail Online had reported that in order to pave the way for Dzulkifli's appointment as the new MACC Chief, his salary scale had been upgraded to Jusa A Superscale by the AGC
“If he’s not upgraded, he cannot jump,” a highly-placed source told Malay Mail Online.themalaymailonline.com
Furthermore, he was also one of the AG Chambers officers implicated in an RM48 million lawsuit filed by lawyer Rosli Dahlan for conducting an illegal search of the lawyer's assets in 2007
Dzulkifli had handled several high-profile corruption and criminal breach of trust cases in the past. This includes the conviction of two Tabung Haji senior general managers, Mohamad Shafie and Mohamed Amin Sidek, in 2002.
However, Mohamad was discharged and acquitted in 2012 by the Court of Appeal.
Dzulkifli also served as secretary to the special task force on 1MDB, replacing Jessica Gurmeet Kaur after Mohamed Apandi Ali succeeded Abdul Gani Patail as A-G.
His appointment, however, confirms the speculations that were doing rounds about Dzulkifli being a possible candidate to replace Abu Kassim, which Attorney-General Apandi had denied it then
There were calls by anti-corruption groups and civil rights organisations in the country to appoint someone from within the MACC as its new Chief, on the grounds that would be more conducive to maintaining its integrity.
Due to which, the MACC's Deputy Chief Commissioner (Prevention) Mustafar Ali's transfer to the Immigration Department as the Director-General comes as a surprise because there had been no speculation of such a move.
Previously, Dzulkifli headed the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team.
He also served as the head of the Anti-Money Laundering section of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) prosecution division, and was a long-time deputy public prosecutor with the AGC, handling commercial crimes and fraud cases.
While a section of lawyers have given Dzulkifli, as The Star Online put it, "thumbs up", a former judge, civil society groups, and activists think the MACC's independence may be compromised under him
The Malay Mail Online reported that the appointment of Dzulkifli Ahmad as MACC chief commissioner could affect the separation of powers doctrine, in which different parties should handle the investigation and prosecution.
It quoted Ambiga Sreenevasan, the National Human Rights Society (Hakam) President, saying, "I think it's a huge impact and I believe morale will be low and I believe it will impact the work of the MACC." Head over to the Malay Mail Online to read in full.
Meanwhile, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, while speaking to FMT, said that while Dzulkifli may have the right credentials to lead MACC, he doesn't think Dzulkifli would have been appointed to an agency like the MACC without Najib's consent
"It looks like he might be Prime Minister Najib Razak’s man who will ensure that no action is taken against the latter and his associates. I don’t think Dzulkifli would have been appointed to an agency like the MACC without Najib’s consent and the latter surely would not appoint a person who would not take his orders."
He said Dzulkifli's independence, when it comes to pursuing those responsible for the alleged embezzlement of 1MBD funds, remains to be seen.
Dzulkifli, who assumes his new role on 1 August, the day when the NSC Act comes into effect, will hold the post until 31 July 2021