PAC members say ball in PM’s court over retaining Kiandee as chief

Danial Dzulkifly
Kiandee, who defected to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) from Umno, has left government lawmakers divided over whether he should stay as the PAC chairman or go. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Several members of the Public Account Committee (PAC) have confirmed that they have sent a letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad airing their uneasiness over retaining Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee as PAC chairman.

Kiandee, who defected to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) from Umno, has left government lawmakers divided over his post as the PAC chairman as ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) had stated in its manifesto that members of the Opposition should helm the post.

Speaking to Malay Mail, PAC member and Subang MP Wong Chen said members of the committee are now waiting for feedback from the prime minister on their letter.

“Members of the PAC have signed a letter that detailed our unhappiness over the issue. We are waiting for his reply before any other steps are taken.

“But the PAC is in the middle of running investigations so for many of us, we would like to see those resolved first before we make any decision on our part,” he told Malay Mail.

“We are not happy that Ronald is the PAC chairman because for the first time, in a very long time, we have both the chairman and deputy chairman from the government,” he added.

Wong said that the current situation went against the norm. However, he admitted that many PAC members prefer to finish their ongoing investigations.

“Because in the old administration, the deputy post was always offered to the Opposition. So this is not a long-term, tenable situation, having said that we have hearings that are already into their fourth month.

“Nurul Izzah came in a bit later so it’s OK for her. But for many of us, who have been here since day one, it is really hard for us to abandon things midway, so we will see things through and wait for a response from the prime minister,” he said, while referring to Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar who announced her resignation from the committee.

Earlier this week, Nurul Izzah and Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh protested against retaining Kiandee as chairman rafter he defected to Bersatu recently. Both insisted that the PAC must be headed by an Opposition MP.

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin also reportedly urged Kiandee to “do the right thing” and resign.

Commenting on Nurul Izzah’s departure from the PAC, Wong said he was sad to see her go but it was ultimately her own decision.

“Of course, I respect her decision. However, to put things at ease, no, I will not resign from the PAC,” he said, stating further that someone has to do the job.

Another PAC member, Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi said she also respects Nurul Izzah’s decision to quit the committee; however, she pointed out that the PAC can still function as an effective committee even without the top post being held by an Opposition lawmaker.

Relating her experience on visiting the Australian Parliament last October, Shu Qi said Malaysia is among the few countries that decided to put an Opposition MP as the leader of the PAC.

“None of the other countries, even developed countries, for example, the UK, Australia or even New Zealand have such an arrangement.

“But then, in terms of prevention of corruption and institutional checks and balance sand so on, they are still far better than us, so it is not merely about the PAC. There are still other ways to conduct institutional reforms as well,” she said.

Shu Qi said the PAC, in whatever the configuration or capacity, must operate in a bipartisan and impartial manner to ensure proper checks and balances.

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