Santiago, Bersih rap decision to retain Kiandee as PAC chairman

DAP’s Klang MP Charles Santiago says the decision makes a mockery of the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been criticised for defending his decision to retain Beluran MP Ronald Kiandee as Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman.

This comes after Kiandee, a former Umno leader, joined Mahathir’s PPBM yesterday.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said Mahathir’s decision made a mockery of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto which pledged to reserve the PAC chairman’s post for a member of the opposition.

Mahathir has said that Kiandee would continue in his role and that PH had kept its promise when the former deputy speaker was first appointed PAC chairman, although his move from the opposition to the government bench was unexpected.

“People are laughing at us. The time for flip-flopping is over because people are watching. They are getting fed up,” Santiago told FMT.

The DAP man said the manifesto clearly stated the PAC chairman must come from the opposition ranks and the government must stick to that.

“Kiandee, in joining PH, should know about the manifesto and resign as PAC chairman. Now, we look stupid.”

This latest flip-flop, Santiago said, gave credence to the belief that PH was not committed to its manifesto and institutional reforms.

Bersih 2.0, meanwhile, said it was alarmed that Mahathir has “unilaterally” decided that Kiandee can remain as PAC chairman.

“We wish to remind Tun Mahathir that the reason why the PH manifesto had it as a promise in the first place was so that the dignity of the Parliament is restored and that it should not be a mere rubber stamp to the executive branch of the government,” said the group in a statement.

Bersih added that the 1MDB issue underlined the importance of a bipartisan PAC

It called on the backbenchers and opposition MPs to condemn the move as it undermined their roles as checks and balances to the Cabinet.

“If the prime minister does not reverse his decision to retain Kiandee as chair of PAC, then not only is the credibility of the PH government at stake but the dignity of Parliament as well.”

Former PAC vice-chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw said Malaysia should not go back to the “old ways” where the PAC chairman came from the government.

Tan, the former Kepong MP, said the chairman should be a veteran opposition member.

“Since we had started by appointing an opposition MP as chairman, we should continue that.

“It is important to have an opposition MP as the chairman.

“If you (PAC chairman) belong to the government, then if there are some disadvantages to the government, then you may not act as you should, or not to the full extent.”

He said the PAC chairman’s role was to get to the truth, regardless of who it affected.