Chairman: Parliamentary committee on key posts can’t decide appointments

Leong explained that the committee could, at most, scrutinise candidates’ suitability for key government roles. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Leong explained that the committee could, at most, scrutinise candidates’ suitability for key government roles. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — The parliamentary select committee on major public appointments has no authority to tell the government which candidates it should select or introduce laws to make this possible, Selayang MP Wlliam Leong clarified today.

The chairman of the PSC, which is under fire after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad unilaterally selected a new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief, explained that the committee could, at most, scrutinise candidates’ suitability for key government roles.

He acknowledged that Pakatan Harapan promised in its election manifesto to give Parliament oversight of such appointments and pointed out that his PSC was created last year as a result of this.

Leong said that going beyond that would violate the doctrine of separation of powers but did not explain why his PSC was not consulted prior to former PKR member Latheefa Koya’s appointment as the new MACC chief commissioner.

“It is to be noted that the terms of reference do not confer power on the Select Committee to appoint or reject the proposed candidates or to amend the Constitution and existing laws.

“By the terms of reference, the select committee is tasked to ensure that the appointment of the candidate stands up to scrutiny based on merit.

“Such scrutiny will enhance the legitimacy and public confidence in the candidate that the appointment to the public office is based on merit and the independence of mind,” Leong said in a statement.

The PSC chairman stressed that the committee previously reviewed and deliberated the appointments of the Chief Justice with the JAC, the IGP with the Police Commission, and the Commissioners of Suhakam with the Suhakam Commission.

Leong also said he met yesterday with Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Mohd Yusof to discuss a meeting of his PSC this Thursday to discuss Latheefa’s appointment, among others.

The PSC will also seek to meet with the PM to discuss its role in major public appointments in the future, he said.

Last week, the Prime Minister’s Office unexpectedly announced Latheefa as the new MACC chief on Tuesday to mixed response from Malaysians.

She replaces Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull who was said to have decided to shorten his service contract that was to end in May 2020.

Dr Mahathir later confirmed he made the choice unilaterally as it was his prerogative.

Other members of Leong’s PSC responded critically to being bypassed, with Opposition Leader Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob calling for the dissolution of the committee of which he is a member.