Umno sec-gen says CEP must go to save Malaysian democracy

Jerry Choong
Tan Sri Annuar Musa says it is not reasonable for the CEP to continue existing as Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad already has his Cabinet to perform its proper functions and responsibilities. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) should be dissolved for the sake of Malaysia's democracy, and its report publicly revealed and discussed during the next Dewan Rakyat sitting, Tan Sri Annuar Musa said today.

The Umno secretary-general said based on the principle of collective responsibility, it is not reasonable for the CEP to continue existing as Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad already has his Cabinet to perform its proper functions and responsibilities.

“I suggest the CEP report be made public and presented in the next parliamentary sitting. This is not only for transparency but to avoid accusations after this,” he said in a statement on Facebook.

The CEP ― comprising former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas CEO Tan Sri Hassan Marican, economist Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram and tycoon Robert Kuok ― was chosen by Dr Mahathir in the early days after Pakatan Harapan’s electoral victory to advise the government on reform.

The prime minister had made it clear then that the government was not bound by the CEP’s recommendations.

Annuar today acknowledged that the duties carried out by the CEP's members may be voluntary with no cost to the government, but said it was a matter of fairness and power.

The Keterah MP noted that the CEP is not officially part of any of the three branches of the government, and claimed its five members have personal interests that conflict with the government’s and which “could undermine the existing system of parliamentary democracy”.

“The CEP also challenges the authority of the Cabinet members by making them look unconfident as well as inconsistent, since several Cabinet members have accused the CEP's members of various things including misappropriation but now appear to concede with them,” he added.

He said the CEP answers to no one but the prime minister alone.

“Already suspicions are being raised over the CEP's role, with the public aware of overt involvement in high-level political arrangements. This could exacerbate the situation and create a Cabinet behind the Cabinet.

“This makes dissolving the CEP all the more important. Its members should not be involved in government affairs, and instead leave the existing system to operate in accordance with the Constitution,” Annuar said.

Yesterday CEP chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin said the council has fulfilled its 100-day mandate, and the report of its recommendations will be handed to the prime minister upon the latter’s return from China.

Daim added that the CEP’s last day was last Saturdayand that since then all its members have returned to their respective professions.

However last Thursday, Dr Mahathir said he remains undecided about dissolving the CEP, since he felt its services are still needed.

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