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Allow PAC and PSC to function for the sake of the nation!

Joint Statement by Wong Kah Woh & Dr. Kelvin Yii 
18th March 2021

Even upon the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s advice, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is yet to be seen to heed the advice and take necessary steps to reconvene Parliament as soon as possible.

The bare minimum that the PM can do, especially if he is so concerned about certain quarters “playing politics” – is to at least allow the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and all Parliamentary Select Committees to function to provide necessary bi-partisan oversight during this unprecedented period.

The announcement of the latest RM11 billion fiscal injection of the “Pemerkasa stimulus package” shows greater urgency for both PAC and PSCs to be allowed to function – to provide scrutiny and check-and-balance which are the pillars of a nation’s democracy.

During a pandemic where billions of public funds are used, it is of utmost importance that all matters and financial procedures are complied with so that the people’s money is really being spent prudently and efficiently. In our democratic system, PAC must be allowed to play an effective role in providing a ‘check-and-balance’ mechanism to the government to promote the spirit of transparency and accountability especially during this period.

The Parliamentary Select Committees (PSC) must also be allowed to convene during the current Emergency to provide important Parliamentary oversight, especially over our country’s approach towards Covid-19 and to get updates on our nation’s biggest National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP).

If the Malaysian government is so confident in its management of Covid-19, then it should not be afraid of being accountable, releasing more data, and facing questions from MPs especially in the PSCs. However, the government’s lack of sufficient explanation in its approach has placed needless strain on public confidence, which is a critical element in effective public health crisis management.

It is important that the government and Ministers are open and transparent about the reality facing the nation, and to provide clarity in their decision-making based on science and evidence in order to fight this pandemic successfully.

There must be accountability for decisions, and the data on which they are based must be clear and transparent. Failure to provide sufficient explanation of the data underpinning key decisions during Covid-19 will then erode public trust – which is what we are seeing now in our country.

That is why during this unprecedented time, both the PAC and PSCs play a pivotal role in providing bi-partisan parliamentary oversight to empower a more transparent, trustworthy, and unique legislature that is appropriate for the current pandemic. This will also help build confidence in and acceptance of the government’s approach towards the pandemic, especially during the vaccine rollout.

This is why we call upon the Speaker of the House Datuk Azhar bin Azizan Harun to also make the same stand and defend the sanctity of Parliament, as well as the principles of separation of power. We need Parliament, or at the very least the PAC and PSCs to convene and serve our nation in order to protect the principles and spirit of democracy in our nation.

Wong Kah Woh
MP for Ipoh Timur
Chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

Dr. Kelvin Yii
MP for Bandar Kuching
Chairman of PSC Health, Science & Innovation

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