Have SOP on politically sensitive decisions, govt bodies urged

cenbet-dap-ros-1PETALING JAYA: Government agencies like the Registrar of Societies (RoS) need to draw up a standard operating procedure (SOP) on administrative decisions that have political implications, to avoid being accused of being tools of the ruling government, the Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) said today.

Simon Lim Seng Chai, a member of the NGO’s board of governors, said the ROS’ recent announcement that the DAP would need to hold re-election of its central executive committee (CEC) had fuelled public suspicion of government interference in the matter.

He said the ROS and other agencies should not only be independent and professional in carrying out their duties, but also be seen to be so.

“To do so, it is imperative that they draw up a clients’ charter and SOP, especially on politically-sensitive decisions, if they have not already. And these must be adhered to in the strictest possible terms,” he said.

“For example, the ROS should spell out the maximum processing time after receiving complaints from aggrieved members of political parties,” he added in a statement.

“Bureaucrats should also make decisions independent of input from members of the administration, even if they were just in consultations.”

Lim said by adhering to a proper and transparent SOP and clients’ charter, the perception that such agencies are under the thumb of Putrajaya can be dispelled.

He said the agencies could then not be accused of dragging their feet for political motives, while also enhancing their transparency and good governance.

In a statement on Friday, RoS director-general Mohammad Razin Abdullah said DAP should conduct fresh elections in light of complaints by DAP members dissatisfied with the party’s re-election on Sept 29, 2013.

“RoS believes the appointment of the CEC members as well as the main position holders through that re-election, is illegal,” he said.

He also said the RoS considered DAP to be a legitimate party and had no intentions to de-register it so far.

Lim said the public was puzzled about why the ROS had taken more than three years before asking the party to hold a re-election.

“The timing could not have been worse as the prime minister’s press aide had just days earlier revisited the old issue of the party’s disputed 2012 and 2013 internal polls and questioned the legitimacy of its central leadership,” he said.

He added that deputy prime minister and home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had also said he would meet with ROS on the matter.

“All these only lend credence to the narrative about political meddling,” Lim said.

On July 3, prime minister Najib Razak’s press secretary Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad had said that the RoS did not recognise the validity of the CEC because of complaints lodged by DAP members against DAP leaders for conducting unfair and undemocratic party elections.