"The C4 Centre is troubled that Lim has been appointed as Finance Minister despite earlier statements by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he can only be appointed if he has been cleared of his corruption charge," its executive director Cynthia Gabriel said in a statement on Tuesday (May 22).
Lim is currently facing charges of using his position as the former Penang chief minister to obtain a plot of land and a bungalow at below market value.
He was also charged with gaining gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew Gek Cheng by approving the application for conversion of agricultural land to a public housing zone in Balik Pulau to a company.
Despite his ongoing trial, Lim was sworn in as the new Finance Minister on Monday (May 21).
"While there is no question about Lim Guan Eng’s suitability for the candidacy, it raises questions about how the Pakatan Harapan is pushing his appointment through," said Gabriel.
"Public officials must uphold full accountability for their actions, and corruption must be completely absent - how can this be neglected with the newly minted Cabinet and especially the leadership of the Finance Ministry at stake," she added.
She said the Pakatan government needed to "walk their talk" of systemic reform, adding that the country needs clean and honest leaders.
Gabriel added that the rule of law and due process in clearing Lim must be followed uncompromisingly before any federal appointments.
She said that as such, the Attorney-General’s (AG) office has to treat Lim’s case with the greatest urgency and the highest priority.
"We urge greater transparency about the process between the Prime Minister and the A-G's office to instil confidence in the public sphere that no strings were pulled, demonstrating that due process was adhered to despite the urgency," she said.
Gabriel acknowledged that there were no legal implications that prevented Lim from taking up the role.
She, however, noted that there are good governance principles which underlay the importance of Dr Mahathir’s statement.
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