The government has been urged to form different parliamentary oversight committees to avoid further leakages like the 1MDB and Felda fiasco.
This was proposed by Malaysian Economy Association (MEA) after comparing the best legislative practices in the world, which emphasized on the importance of check and balance in curbing leakages in key government agencies.
At a press conference yesterday, MEA deputy president Latifah Merican Cheong said the country only has the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which did not follow the practice by other legislative by appointing an opposition lawmaker to chair the entity.
The PAC, chaired by BN Rompin lawmaker Hasan Arifin, has been widely criticised by the opposition for evading the role of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the ex-chairperson of the 1MDB advisory board.
MEA had proposed various permanent parliamentary committees to be set up since the formation of an administration after a poll, she said.
To a question, the former Bank Negara Malaysia assistant governor, who served the central bank for three decades, admitted 1MDB and Felda fiasco could have been prevented if such a permanent parliamentary committee was in place.
“Yes, it could (have been prevented). If you have parliamentary committee on finance and national debt, we could have examined all the issues,” said the economist.
“They will work on reports and they publish them,” she said, adding that the reports prepared by such a committee should not be classified.
Latifah held the press conference to announce MEA’s forum on economic governance in the public sector governance at Sasana Kijang, Kuala Lumpur on Feb 13.
According to her, the whole day forum will touch on evolution of civil service, its transparency and ethnic dimension as well as the implementation of the public policy.
The decision-making process was very structured prior to the Asian crisis in the 90s, but later evolved into top-down decision-making that lacked the transparency, she said.
She further zoomed into the integrity issue of public officials and the procedures that allow leakage as the main reason for the repeat of Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BFM) scandal in the 1980s and the recent 1MDB and Felda issues.
“This (procedure) is about putting certain rules and regulation, check and balance to ensure things will not happen. Even if it happened, you still have whistleblowers and regulations that enable detection from the beginning,” she said.
Latifah, who noted the lack of action in these issues, urged the people not to let the issue die down.
“It is trying to get more and more people to understand the issue. This is more about awareness, the public can make the demand and social media talk about it, the government has to respond.
“Sometimes reform can also come from bottom-up if there is enough pressure. You choose a leader via the ballot box,” she added.
“(We create) enough awareness, then you should be careful of the leaders you select. The only thing that cannot change is your parent,” she said.
She also called the public to look at Malaysia in the 1960s when the country was led by leaders who were blessed with foresight.
“I quote (the late prime minister) Abdul Razak, (Umno veterans) Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah and Ismail Ali. In the 1960s, we had (these) good role models. We just need to go back to certain role models. You looked at how our Federal Constitution was drafted, the leaders had a lot of foresight.
“Malaysia is not an easy country (to run), the British had separated us by making Malays the farmers and Chinese the retailers.
“They had created a legacy that is not easy to manage,” she added.