1MDB debate will undermine PAC, group says

Gan Ping Sieu

(Malay  Mail Online) – The proposed debate between DAP’s Tony Pua and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) president Arul Kanda Kandasamy is inappropriate as it jeopardises the function and integrity of the Public Accounts Committee, said the Centre for a Better Tomorrow (CENBET).

The  pro-moderation and good governance group  said that going ahead with the debate would result in a “political sideshow”, which will detract from the current efforts to uncover the details on 1MDB.

“Having a Public Accounts Committee member to publicly debate with the group executive director of 1MDB, a company which PAC is probing, would only undermine the proper functioning of PAC and compromise its integrity as an institution,” CENBET co-President Gan Ping Sieu said in a statement.

He also said that Pua’s challenge to publicly debate Arul Kanda as well as Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak’s endorsement to host a live telecast of the event were both flawed in principle.

“Any challenge by a legislator/politician for public debate over matters of public affairs or matters regarding a government incorporated company should not be directed to a bureaucrat or the CEO of that company.

“Instead, it should be directed to the minister charged with ministerial oversight over the matters or fellow politicians who defend the matter,” Gan added.

The MCA leader also said that a head of a government-owned company had no business agreeing to a public debate against a politician over the affairs of his own company.

“His duty is to report to the government in respect of the affairs of that company, to provide clarification in such manners as directed by the government and to answer to any inquiry or investigation conducted by bodies charged with lawful authority (MACC, PAC, Bank Negara etc).

“It is a ministerial duty to answer all queries on 1MDB satisfactorily. The minister, having ministerial oversight of the affairs of 1MDB, must not be seen to relinquish or delegate his political accountability to Arul Kanda, nor permitting him to accept the challenge by YB Tony Pua for a public debate,” Gan said.

Yesterday, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia had said that Pua, who is the Petaling Jaya Utara MP, should either resign from the PAC or abstain from the committee’s probe on 1MDB if he wants to debate the issue with the firm’s president, Arul Kanda.

Pandikar also ruled that Arul Kanda himself can no longer be a witness in the probe if the debate goes on.

Pandikar’s ruling came shortly after Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said said national broadcaster RTM had suggested a Friday slot for a live telecast of the debate.