MPs urge convening of PAC, PSCs to discuss govt’s approach to Covid-19

Dr Kelvin Yii (file photo)

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KUCHING, March 18: There is an urgent need for Parliament, or at least the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Parliamentary Select Committees (PSCs), to reconvene proceedings so to provide scrutiny over the Malaysian government’s approach towards Covid-19.

PAC chairman and Ipoh Timur MP Wong Kah Woh and PSC Health, Science and Innovation chairman and Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii made this call through a joint-statement today.

They emphasised that the latest announcement on RM11 fiscal injection of “Pemerkasa stimulus package” demonstrated greater urgency for both PAC and PSCs to be allowed to function to provide scrutiny and check-and-balance which is the pillar on a nation’s democracy.

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

“The bare minimum, especially if the PM is so concerned about certain quarters ‘playing politics’, he should at least allow the PAC and all PSCs to function to provide necessary bi-partisan oversight during this unprecedented period,” they stressed.

During such pandemic, where billions of public funds were mobilised, Wong and Yii pointed out that it was of utmost importance that all matters, procedures and financial procedures of the country were complied to ensure people’s money were really being spent prudently and efficiently.

“PAC must be allowed to play an effective role in providing ‘check and balance’ mechanism in the democratic system to the government to promote the spirit of transparency and accountability especially during this period.

“The PSCs must also be allowed to convene even 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),” they added.

They were of the view that the Malaysian government should not be afraid to be accountable, released more data and faced questions from lawmakers especially the PSCs if the Malaysian government is so confident in its management of the pandemic.

However, they observed that the government’s lack of sufficient explanation in its approach has placed needless strain on public confidence which was a critical element in effective public health crisis management.

“It is important that the ministers and government 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 underpins key decisions during Covid-19 which will then erode public trust which is what we are seeing now in our country,” they said.

Wong and Yii reiterated that both PAC and PSCs play pivotal role to provide bi-partisan parliamentary oversight to empower a more transparent, trustworthy, and unique legislature that is appropriate for current pandemic.

As such, they called upon the Speaker of the House Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun to also make the same stand and defend the sanctity of the Parliament and also the principles of separation of power.

“We need Parliament, or at least the PAC and PSCs to convene and do its service to our nation in order to protect the principle and spirit of democracy in our nation,” they added. — DayakDaily