In a bid by Malaysia to decentralise power from the Prime Minister and to restore checks and balances in the government, a Parliamentary Select Committee will be convened and placed in charge of appointing the Auditor-General, according to Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The transfer of authority from the Prime Minister to the Select Committee was part of the reforms discussed in the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption’s third meeting yesterday.
Dr Mahathir explained that presently, “the National Audit Department is placed under the Prime Minister’s Department”.
He elaborated: “We have agreed to move this authority to a Parliamentary Select Committee.
Therefore, the Prime Minister and the Government will not have any involvement in the Auditor-General’s appointment.”
“The Prime Minister will also not have any power to punish or sack anyone in the National Audit Department,” added Dr Mahathir, suggesting that the reform was also suggested to prevent abuse and misuse of the authority over the Auditor-General, including the capacity to demote, or even terminate, the Auditor-General for unjustified reasons such as political vengeance and similar motives.
The reforms proposed will also require constitutional amendments to be made, which will in turn require the approval of MPs from the Opposition, said Dr Mahathir. This includes a reform that suggests putting a cap on the Prime Minister’s tenure.
“We do not have two-thirds majority in Parliament.
If we can get the assurance of Opposition parties that they will support the amendments, only then will we table it,” he said.
In its election manifesto, the Pakatan Harapan coalition has pledged to limit the Prime Minister’s tenure to only “two terms”, and that the Prime Minister “will not simultaneously hold other ministerial posts, especially the post of Minister of Finance”.
Currently in Singapore under the Federal Constitution, the appointment of the Auditor-General, although officially made by the President of the Republic, is still dependent on the Prime Minister’s advice, with the consultation of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission.