PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 has expressed concern over the move to retain Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee as Public Committee Accounts (PAC) chairman despite the government's earlier commitment that the post should be held by an Opposition member.
The electoral watchdog said it was vital for an Opposition member to helm the PAC as it was a matter of providing checks and balances to the government.
The Star reported Friday (March 15) that Kiandee was among six Sabah elected reps who left Umno to officially join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
Bersih 2.0 said it was dismayed that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the move to have the PAC helmed by an Opposition member was "only policy" and "not institutionalised".
"We wish to remind Tun (Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) that the reason why the Pakatan Harapan manifesto had it as a promise in the first place was so that the dignity of Parliament would be restored and that it should not be a mere rubber stamp to the executive branch of the government.
"Soon after taking power last year, the Prime Minister administratively released key institutions such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Election Commission, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the National Audit Department from the control of the Prime Minister's Department.
"Will he or future prime ministers reverse this move because their independence is not 'institutionalised'?" it questioned in a statement Saturday (March 16).
Kiandee's statement that he will not resign since Dr Mahathir has said there is no need for him to do so also shows he is not suitable to chair the PAC, the electoral watchdog said.
Bersih 2.0 also called on the backbenchers and Opposition MPs to "strongly condemn" the move which would "undermine their role as a check and balance to the Cabinet."
It said the PAC's responsibility is to review all public accounts and to examine the Auditor-General's reports, and that it has the power to investigate all the government's businesses.
Lessons should also have been drawn from the 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB) scandal of the importance of having a PAC that is not chaired by a member of the ruling coalition, it added.