PAC man runs into flak for taking govt post

Wong Kah Woh is deputy chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Wong Kah Woh of DAP has come under fire for accepting the chairmanship of the Sustainable Energy Development Authority while also holding the post of deputy chairman of the parliamentary watchdog Public Accounts Committee.

Wong’s appointment as chairman of Seda was announced earlier today. He replaces Ahmad Fauzi Hasan, who has been serving as acting chairman since July last year.

Party comrade Dr Boo Cheng Hau, a vocal critic, said there would be a clear conflict of interest if Wong held both posts, while former Transparency International president Ramon Navaratnam said: “Quality, merit and experience should be the criteria and not politics”.

Boo said that Seda, a regulatory body, would be best led by a civil servant with professional qualifications. “PAC’s role is to monitor the financial performance of all government agencies for transparency. There is potentially a conflict of interest when PAC has to monitor Seda’s performance,” he told FMT today.

He suggested that the appointment was in violation of the principle of separation of powers when a member of the legislature becomes part of the executive branch of government.

Wong is MP for Ipoh Timur.

Dr Boo Cheng Hau.

“I believe Wong has the wisdom to understand that he could only play an effective role as a legislator and PAC deputy chair without strings attached to an executive post,” said Boo, who is a former head of Johor DAP.

Boo urged all Pakatan Harapan members and leaders to “restrain themselves” in accepting government appointments. They should uphold their pledges to the people.

Navaratnam said the government owes it to the public as to why, how and what makes the Ipoh Timur MP the best person for the job.

In announcing Wong’s appointment, Seda referred to him as an MP who had “a great interest in serving the community” and had served as legal adviser to community-based associations.

Navaratnam questioned if Wong’s appointment would be scrutinised by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Appointments.

However, the committee’s chairman, William Leong, said the post of Seda chairman need not go through his committee.

Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki urged the minister for energy, Yeo Bee Yin, to explain Wong’s appointment.

He said the appointment of DAP leaders to head government agencies not only raises alarm bells on transparency and good governance, but was another instance of PH breaking its manifesto pledges on political appointments in government agencies.

“Are there no persons from experts, professional engineers and corporate members to take on the role of Seda chairman?” he asked in a statement, and also cited potential conflict of interest concerns.

FMT has reached out to Wong and Yeo for comments.