Despite widespread dissatisfaction at his decision to appoint a new anti-corruption chief without consulting Malaysia’s Cabinet, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has now declared that he will continue to decide on key public appointments in the Government.
According to a report by The Edge, the PM told reporters after a meeting of the Economic Action Council on Tuesday (June 11) that he would use the “the old idea” of having the Prime Minister recommend key appointments, since Parliamentary Select Committees were not legally functional yet.
These committees ensure the selection process for key government positions is transparent, and reduces the PM’s ability to intervene in appointments.
“[The Committees] cannot function legally yet. So at the moment we [use] the old idea of making the appointment — that is, the Prime Minister decides. The others can give their views,” The Edge quoted Mahathir as saying.
The PM added that Malaysia did not currently have the majority vote from Parliament needed to make the committees legal.
“We intend to have Parliamentary Select Committees. But to do that, we have to change some provisions in the Federal Constitution,” he said.
“To change that, we need two-thirds majority [in the Dewan Rakyat]. And the government does not have a two-thirds majority.”
The same day as the PM’s announcement, the chairman of the Select Committee on Major Public Appointments, William Leong, said that the committee was requesting to meet Mahathir about “practices on appointments and the role of Parliament in monitoring the matter”.
According to a report by The Star, Leong said that the committee could not interfere with government appointments, but did serve as a check against abuses of power.
Its effectiveness also helped instill public confidence that Government appointments were made based on merit, The Star quoted him as saying.
Leong added that the committee had evaluated the recent appointments of the Chief Justice, Inspector-General of Police and the Malaysian Human Rights Commissioner.
At the 14th General Election, Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan coalition had promised to abolish the practice of political appointees and ensure that committees vet all key appointments.
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