by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, April 19, 1994:
Appointment of Zihin as PAC Chairman most improper, irregular, inappropriate and makes a mockery of the principle of accountability
The appointment of Datuk Mohd Zihin Mohd Hassan as the new Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the Dewan Rakyat is most improper, irregular, inappropriate and makes a mockery of the principle of accountability.
The Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Mohamed Zahir Ismail said yesterday that since the former PAC Chairman, Datuk Dr. Affifuddin Omar, has relinquished his position on his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry, Mohd. Zihin as deputy chairman would take over as chairman.
By all parliamentary practice, tradition and convention, in Malaysia and in other Commonwealth countries, the post of PAC Chairman is appointed by Parliament by way of a motion and there should be no departure from this practice.
If Mohd.Zihin takes over as PAC Chairman without a motion by Parliament appointing him to the post, then such an appointment is most improper and irregular.
Furthermore, the appointment of Mohd.Zihin as PAC Chairman would be most inappropriate and would make a mockery of the principle of accountability of the government to Parliament, especially with regard to its expenditure of public funds.
This is because the appointment of Mohd. Zihin as PAC Chairman would create a conflict-of-interest situation as Mohd.Zihin is UDA Chairman.
As UDA is one of the agencies whose accounts are subject to scrutiny and examination by PAC, the question would be raised as to whether as PAC Chairman, Mohd Zihin would be rigorous and aggressive against financial irregularities and improprieties in government departments and agencies as exposed by the Auditor-General’s Reports.
This problem will not be resolved by Mohd Zihin absenting himself from PAC proceedings when the PAC is examining UDA accounts, as the attitude and approach of a PAC Chairman who is also a head of a government agency whose accounts must come before the PAC would be completely different from those of a PAC Chairman unencumbered by such conflicts of interest.
If Mohd.Zihin wants to be appointed as PAC Chairman, then he should relinquish his position as UDA Chairman.
As the Deputy Prime Minister is traditionally responsible for Parliamentary affairs on behalf of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should appreciate not only the impropriety but the inappropriateness of the appointment of Mohd.Zihin as PAC Chairman.
The time has come for Malaysia to return to the mainstream of Commonwealth Parliamentary practice of appointing an Opposition MP to head the PAC, it the Government is serious about the principle of accountability.
If the Government is still not prepared to appoint an Opposition MP to head the PAC 37 years after Merdeka, it should explain its reasons, worries and fears.