PAC wants aviation commission to be free from PM's control

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KUALA LUMPUR (Apr 9): The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today joined opposition lawmakers and some aviation analysts in calling for the appointment of the members of the aviation commission, including its executive chairman, to consist only of members who are truly independent.

"Our opinion is that members of the aviation commission must be totally independent of the industry that it is supposed to regulate.

"If the aviation commission is staffed with people from the airline industry, [and] we know that the government itself owns major stakes and controls, [through] MAHB (Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd) and MAS (Malaysian Airline System Bhd) ... then the government is still not making the aviation commission independent," PAC chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said this to reporters today.

PAC had tabled a report to Parliament on issues relating to the new low cost carrier terminal klia2 in November last year, said Nur Jazlan, but to date the government, including the Ministry of Finance (MoF), has yet to act on its recommendations.

In that same report, the PAC had recommended that the government set up an independent aviation commission.

"It [the aviation commission] is one of our recommendations that the government needs to look at even though it has passed the bill last night," he said, referring to the controversial Malaysian Aviation Commission Bill 2015 that was passed by Parliament in the wee hours of this morning despite protests by opposition lawmakers not to rush the bill through.

Under the bill, the commission will be led by an executive chairman who shall be appointed by the prime minister. Its members will include two representatives from the federal government, namely the secretary-general of the Ministry of Transport, and the director-general of the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department.

“It is all in our PAC report, which states why we say that no connected persons to the airlines or even the government investment bodies should be sitting in the commission, it should be totally independent people,” he stressed.

This is because the commission will be looking at the issue of the aviation industry as a whole, not just as a domestic issue but also an international one, he added.

"You need a pair of fresh eyes [for that]," he pointed out.

Nur Jazlan also urged the government not to ignore PAC’s recommendations as it does not want to be labelled a toothless tiger as it is the voice of the people.

"Until today the government has not directed the Auditor-General to conduct an audit on klia2.

"But for 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd),  the government had instructed the Auditor-General to conduct an audit ... so why is it 1MDB is allowed and not klia2," he chided the government.