As Day 100 arrives, MPs question ’eminent’ advisers

(MMO) – Several Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs have asked the government to explain the role of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) following the prime minister’s announcement that the advisory body will not be disbanded just yet.

Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah said although other issues like 1MDB remained unresolved, the people had the right to question the CEP’s function in the government.

“Is it an executive body or an advisory body?

“There are ministers who draw up plans for their ministries and MPs to debate in Parliament too,” she told FMT.

She said although the CEP’s policies were not far off from the policies of the PH government, many people were unsure of the council’s role.

The CEP was formed immediately after PH took federal power in the May 9 general election. Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the council was needed to stabilise a government of inexperienced ministers.

The five-member advisory body is led by former finance minister Daim Zainuddin and includes Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Hassan Marican, Robert Kuok and KS Jomo.

Yesterday, Mahathir said the CEP would not be disbanded as he still had need of its services.

He added that he never said it would be dissolved within 100 days of PH taking over Putrajaya.

DAP’s Klang MP Charles Santiago said the people had initially welcomed the council as PH was still establishing itself as the new government.

Now, however, Mahathir needed to explain its purpose, he added.

“Is the CEP making recommendations on the policies it has been looking at, or is it advising Mahathir? He needs to explain why CEP’s role has been extended and if its members are being paid a salary.”

Subang MP Wong Chen meanwhile said the government should clarify the terms of the extension and provide a concrete date for its dissolution.

He also voiced concern that the CEP might encroach on the work scope of Cabinet members, saying this would be unfair.

“There is a need for clarification on what will happen in the event of a clash between the CEP and a ministry. Who should prevail?”

He added that reports and recommendations made by the CEP should be made public.