Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday,
28th October 2008:
PAC Chairman Azmi Khalid should withdraw
from the PAC inquiry into Eurocopter deal in view of his “close
proximity” to the Executive as two-term member of the Cabinet until
seven months ago
Datuk Azmi Khalid, the Chairman of the Public
Accounts Committee (PAC), should personally withdraw from the PAC
inquiry into the RM2.3 billion 12 Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal because
of his “close proximity” to the Executive as two-term member of the
Cabinet until seven months ago,.
Azmi’s background as a two-term Cabinet Minister under Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be important considerations to the Prime
Minister why Azmi is regarded as politically suitable, stable, reliable
and trustworthy candidate as PAC Chairman although from the perspective
of established parliamentary conventions in mature democracies, these
same factors would be regarded as precisely the reason why he is not
suitable or qualified for the post.
In fact, in mature and developed parliamentary democracies, the Chairman
of PAC is invariably from a senior Opposition MP, and not an MP from the
administration, let alone a person who had just been a two-term Minister
under the Prime Minister-of-the-day.
Credibility is greatly stretched for anyone to believe that a two-term
Minister would be prepared to be very zealous to conduct a
no-holds-barred PAC investigation into any major government irregularity
or impropriety like the RM2.3 billion 12 Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal –
especially as Azmi was a Minister in the original Cabinet decision of
18th July 2007 to phase out the Nuri fleet of helicopters after the
latest Nuri helicopter crash the week before.
As the maxim goes, justice must not only be done but must be seen to be
done. Any hint of conflict-of-interest whether arising from “close
proximity” as a two-term Cabinet Member of the Prime Minister-of-the-day
or other reasons should be avoided at all costs.
Azmi Khalid should therefore withdraw from any PAC inquiry into the
RM2.3 billion Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal, and the full responsibility
for conducting the helicopter investigation should devolve to the Deputy
PAC Chairman Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (DAP – Kepong).
Two weeks ago, after the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri
Anwar Ibrahim and I queried the propriety and integrity of the Cougar
EC725 helicopter deal in Parliament, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that he would probe allegations that there
were irregularities in the multi-billion ringgit defence procurement.
The silence of Abdullah, who is also Defence Minister, in the past
fortnight on this issue has been deafening.
Abdullah had also said that the Anti-Corruption Agency will also look
into the helicopter deal.
Has this been done?
The PAC investigation into the RM2.3 billion Cougar EC725 Eurocopter
helicopter deal cannot be used as an excuse for Abdullah as the Defence
Minister to avoid giving a proper reply to the issues raised by Pakatan
Rakyat MPs on the deal during the budget debate.
I for one will be looking forward to Abdullah’s response to the various
queries raised in Parliament and outside on the RM2.3 billion Cougar
EC725 Eurocopter deal during the four-day Ministerial replies in
Parliament starting tomorrow.
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor