PUTRAJAYA: The prime minister will continue to decide on major public appointments, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday (Jun 11), despite Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) election promise that such appointments would go through a parliamentary committee.
Dr Mahathir said that the Federal Constitution could not be amended for the parliamentary select committee to function legally because PH does not command a two-thirds majority in parliament.
"So at the moment we go back to the old idea of making appointments, which is 'the prime minister decides'," he said, after chairing the Economic Action Council meeting.
"The others can have their views, but it is the prime minister who decides."
During the 14th general election, PH had pledged that appointments to the Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), Election Commission, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Judicial Appointments Commission must be approved by a parliamentary committee.
This would reduce the ability of the prime minister to intervene in these important appointments, the coalition said in its manifesto.
For that reason, the appointment of former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) member Latheefa Beebi Koya to helm the MACC, which Dr Mahathir admitted was his sole decision, was heavily criticised.
Describing it as "constitutionally correct, politically wrong", Democratic Action Party (DAP) stalwart Lim Kit Siang noted in his blog on Sunday that the decision had gone against PH’s manifesto even though it was "completely constitutional" under present legal arrangements.
Another public appointment that is pending is the top post at SUHAKAM, following the resignation of incumbent chairman Razali Ismail on Apr 16.
Dr Mahathir said that while it was the government's intention to have a parliamentary select committee on public appointments, these committees cannot function legally unless changes were made to the Federal Constitution.
There is an existing parliamentary special select committee on public appointments, which is headed by Selayang Member of Parliament William Leong.
Dr Mahathir insisted that he did not need to consult his Cabinet regarding these appointments.
"I can ask for opinions from various people, and then I decide based on the merits of the case," he said.