Press Statement: Questionable choices for PAC can lead to questioned integrity

Press Statement dated 4 November 2020

The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) calls into question the choices of UMNO MPs Ahmad Maslan and Noh Omar as appointed members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), two of twelve MPs that were appointed on Nov 3.

C4 Center would like to point out the purpose of PAC is to provide a check and balance to the government, and to enforce transparency in transactions. However, the appointment of the two named MPs seems counter-intuitive to the spirit and role of PAC.

The severe issue comes from Ahmad Maslan being charged with money laundering, after he failed to state his real income on the RM2 mil he received from former prime minister Najib Razak for his income tax return form for 2013, thus violating Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967. He has since withdrawn his appeal after failing to overturn the charge.

It is not only laughable, but ultimately alarming that someone being charged with poor transparency and governance is being appointed to a committee meant for maintaining good governance and upholding transparency.

At the same time, equally alarming is the appointment of Noh Omar, the MP who had previously noted that stealing is only a crime if you get caught. The exact quote used in the Apr 4, 2019 parliamentary session was that “stealing is not wrong, only when you are arrested it becomes wrong”.

The analogy, while given in the spirit of emphasizing that someone is innocent until proven guilty, is worded in a way that is alarming and ultimately suspect for the purposes of PAC.

For Parliament to maintain any credibility for itself and PAC, Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun has to reconsider the appointment of these two particular MPs in the committee. Surely UMNO has other MPs that would be better able to represent the party in the committee.

Continuing with the appointment would only bring into question the integrity and trustworthiness of PAC as a whole, thus jeopardising the role PAC plays in championing transparency in government.

Released by:
Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center)


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