Government Urged to Appoint PAC Members Immediately

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The government must immediately appoint new members of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) since matters related to the committee has been delayed for several months.

Wong Kah Woh (PH – Ipoh Timur) said since the change of government in March and up until the Dewan Rakyat session started in July, no motion to appoint a new PAC chairman and vice-chairman were brought up in the House.

“Since the Sheraton Move (the political coup in late Feb), the PAC has not been able to perform its duties, hold meetings or even prepare a report.

Hari Anggara

“Up until today, the committee had only met nine times compared to previous years where they met at least 60 times in one year,” he told a press conference at the Parliament building today.

Wong stressed that the nine times were only administrative meetings.

“If you go to the PAC secretariat room, it is in a sad state. The whiteboard is still ‘white’, nothing has been written on it, and this means that no work has been done,” he said.

According to Wong, the PAC’s proceedings have stopped since March when the Speaker then, Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, directed it to do so after five of its members became ministers.

Since March 9, not a single PAC proceeding has been conducted and no witnesses were summoned.

Wong said several reports that have been prepared for tabling in Parliament since February have now been delayed and several more remain incomplete.

He expressed concern that the PAC will not be able to formally scrutinise the latest series of the Auditor-General’s Report due out next week.

During the previous Pakatan Harapan-led administration, the government had appointed Noraini Ahmad to be the first opposition MP to chair the PAC.

This is in contrast to the BN-era practice of appointing government backbenchers to the post.

Following the collapse of the Harapan government, Noraini was appointed as the higher education minister and had to relinquish her PAC chair on March 10.

This is in accordance with Standing Order 77(4), which states: “No member may be appointed or nominated to or act as chairperson or member of the PAC while he/she is a minister”.

Apart from Noraini, four other PAC members were also appointed as ministers and deputy ministers.

Wong said the PAC is running out of time to perform check and balance against the government, since the current parliamentary session would end next week.

Hence, he hopes the government will give urgent attention to the matter.

“If nothing changes, the PAC will have to wait until the November session. We want to work but we cannot,” he said.

“The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government cannot delay the appointments any more as there are many urgent matters that have been put on hold, including investigating discrepancies found in the previous two Auditor-General’s Report.

“We haven’t even looked into the previous two reports, and next Monday, the auditor-general will release another report.

“Does the PN government still believe in checks and balances?” he said.

According to Wong, the PAC now only has eight members, all of whom are from the Opposition bloc. The panel may only function if there is equal representation.