A MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department has dismissed suggestions that the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has overstepped its role even as Opposition members pressed for explanation about CEP chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin’s visit to China.
Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the visit was on instructions from the Prime Minister, so that Daim could get views on pertinent issues.
“The CEP is doing a national service, by providing their expertise without any salary. The CEP is only in an advisory capacity and does not have executive powers, whatever they recommend to the Government is not necessarily binding,” he said in reply to a supplementary question from Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (BN-Rembau) in Parliament yesterday.
Khairy had asked on the CEP’s source of power, and claimed the members were unelected and unaccountable, therefore they should be disbanded.
CEP chairman Daim was in China last week, and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he was sent there in a bid to renegotiate loans and contracts that the previous government had inked with Chinese companies.
Khairy claimed the CEP appeared to be more than mere advisers to the Government.
For example, he mentioned the time Daim summoned then top judges Tun Md Raus Sharif and Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin to his office in early June.
Days after the meeting, Md Raus and Zulkefli resigned as Chief Justice and Court of Appeal president, respectively.
Khairy also criticised the appointment of CEP member Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz as chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Sime Darby Property Bhd.
“How is all this national service? When is the Government going to disband the CEP?” he asked.
In response, Liew said the question on CEP’s locus standi was non-existent as it was an advisory body, not a statutory one, and that once its task of preparing recommendations to fulfil Pakatan Harapan’s 100-day manifesto was complete, the CEP would be disbanded.
Later at the Parliament lobby, Khairy said: “While it was true that the previous government had also had advisory boards, they adhered to their designated roles.
“I merely voiced out the views of people who are not too happy with the CEP.
“The Malaysian Government is built on three pillars – the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary – and CEP should not be the fourth pillar,” he said.
At the Parliament lobby, Ayer Hitam MP and MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong urged the Government to clearly explain the powers of the CEP.
“We want to know what are their powers and jurisdiction and whether can they make certain decisions on behalf of the Government.
“We even see that the chairman Tun Daim was given a special mission to China.
“This is not just a social visit or visiting friends.
“Previously, Pakatan stated that they are opposing the position of special envoy to the Prime Minister. Is this the same practice?” asked Dr Wee.
Did you find this article insightful?