Frankly Speaking: What good is a policy that’s ignored?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on March 25, 2019 - March 31, 2019.
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When Beluran MP Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee left Umno to join Bersatu two weeks ago, a big question mark hung over his position as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had promised that should it win the 14th general election (GE14), the PAC would be headed by an opposition MP to ensure proper checks and balances.

PH did win GE14. As far as the PAC is concerned, PH did fulfil its promise to have an opposition MP take the helm.

But the moment Kiandee crossed over from the opposition camp to join PH, that pledge became undone. By right, another qualified opposition MP should take his place as PAC chairman.

That is why Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks about the matter are worrying.

He said Kiandee did not need to step down and that the election promise of having the PAC led by an opposition MP was just “policy and not institutionalised or part of the constitution”.

This is wrong on many levels. First, it is a matter of upholding good governance in parliament to have an opposition-led PAC. Doing otherwise is a disservice to the public.

Secondly, PH should take responsibility for its election promises. It is irresponsible to now backtrack — especially on something that is as simple to keep as this — after leveraging them to win GE14.

And thirdly, a policy represents the guiding principles and direction of any government of the day, whether it is institutionalised or not.

What good is having a clearly stated policy only to pretend it does not matter?

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