All talk and not a single firm move to reform the institutions so far

THE general consensus from many commentators and people who write to the media is that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has so far been saying mostly the right things and it must be noted that not many can disagree with this.

But the problem is that so far it is all about statements – more sloganeering if you like – but almost nothing in terms of serious action, especially if the intended reforms need amendments to the laws and the constitution.

So, beyond the rhetoric we haven’t heard about a committee that’ll be formed to evaluate the situation and then put forward suggestions on how reforms can be achieved.

Officially it’s the king who appoints the heads of national institutions but the person appointed remains someone who is recommended by the prime minister and this is where the powers of the latter are all-consuming.

We read all the time news reports about a head of an institution making a courtesy call to thank the PM for appointing him or her.

Former national police chief Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador went a step further by declaring that he would never turn against former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who called him back from early retirement to offer him the post, even if he were cut to pieces.

Then there was lawyer Latheefa Koya who made a courtesy call on Mahathir in June 2019 after her appointment as head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), a decision Mahathir had told Malaysians was his alone.

Something like this suggests that the heads are bound to act in deference to the PM and that takes away their independence.

If Malaysia truly wants to move forward and be right up there with the rest of the world in governance, integrity and all the good virtues it only has to institute institutional reforms and everything else will follow and fall into place.

The ideal way would be to allow the PM to only recommend a name or more to a parliamentary committee that then does the vetting, including interviews and checks on assets. Having decided it then submits its choice to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

This is a basic, fundamental practice in most established democracies and is so simple to adopt. All it needs is political will. – Feb 7, 2023


Main pic credit: Getty Images

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