THE proposal to have an open competition for all public appointments and appointing ministerial selection committees to shortlist candidates and conduct interviews has strong merits (“Reforming the public appointment process” by Ding Jo-Ann, Sunday Star, June 9; online at bit.ly/star_reform).
This is so especially given the past, often unsatisfactory, record of the Executive or ministers’ unfettered power to appoint and remove appointees.
Key national positions should ideally be vetted by a suitable bipartisan parliamentary committee. For example, in the United States, the Senate is empowered to conduct public interviews and provide consent for all key appointments. Critically, candidates put forward by the Executive (ie, the White House) have to undergo a thorough questioning of suitability and qualification by this Senate confirmation process before they can be appointed.
Perhaps we may wish to adopt or adapt the British system where nominated candidates are reviewed by the relevant parliamentary committee, which then produces a report on the suitability of the candidate. If so, new legislation must be debated and put in place in Malaysian law.
Such a Parliamentary Major Public Appointments Committee would improve the integrity of the selection and appointment process of our key public servants. By undergoing these external independent checks, these key public leadership positions would gain in credibility and integrity.
Strong appointment committees, conceived to provide checks and balances on the Executive, are in line with our new administration’s mandate for greater transparency, accountability and good governance.
SZE LOONG STEVE NGEOW
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