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Friday May 18, 2007

Dompok and Nazri disagree over function of integrity panel


KUALA LUMPUR: Two ministers seem to be at loggerheads over the function of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity, whose chairman Tan Sri Bernard Dompok has now quit. 

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz said there was a “wide gap” between Dompok's view on the committee's scope of duties and that of the Cabinet. 

Nazri, who said the committee's scope of duties was only to get feedback from the people for the Government to formulate unity programmes, said Dompok's views might have been influenced by Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, who is a member of the committee. 

Dompok, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, however, maintained it was within the scope of the committee to request clarification from government officials on matters brought up by the public to the committee at forums. 

On Nazri's suggestion that he could have been influenced by Lim, Dompok said: “It’s a cheap shot.” 

On Wednesday, Dompok issued a statement saying he had resigned as the committee chairman and said he “would not be able to do justice to the tasks assigned to the committee by Parliament.”  

Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday, Nazri said the committee was the wrong forum to bring up issues such as the complaints against former Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director-general Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Noor or the issue of identity cards in Sabah. 

“There is a general consensus among the ministers that the committee, which is not permanent, is not empowered to call anyone to give testimony or evidence,” he said, adding that it was not like the Public Accounts Committee, which was a permanent committee. 

In KOTA KINABALU, Dompok insisted that the committee had the right to request clarification from government officials on matters brought up by the public. 

“The committee is a new experience for Malaysia. We are defining procedures. What we are doing today will be the reference for the future,” he said after the Penampang Kaamatan district celebration yesterday. 

Asked if his resignation stemmed from frustrations over the committee’s failure to get answers on the high profile issues, such as that concerning the former ACA director-general and the Sabah identity card problem, he said:  

“No. I feel the legislature and executive must work separately. We are within our turf as it is in line with the parliamentary resolution that set up the committee.” 

Dompok said he was never under pressure to resign and had informed the Prime Minister of his intention to step down. 

In a statement, Lim said Dompok’s resignation was a red light warning that the Prime Minister’s national integrity and anti-corruption campaign had ran aground after 42 months.  

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