KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 – Ronald Kiandee and other MPs and state assemblymen who quit Umno in the past two days are all in the Twilight Zone, according to Lim Kit Siang.
The DAP veteran said this when explaining why it was still okay for the Beluran MP from Sabah to still keep his position as Public Accounts Committee Chairman in the Dewan Rakyat.
“If he joins one of the Pakatan Harapan parties, then he is obliged to resign immediately as PAC Chairman as the Pakatan Harapan has introduced the principle that the PAC Chairman must be an Opposition MP.
“Until then, I think Ronald Kiandee is in the twilight zone, because he has not yet become a government MP although he has left Umno,” said the Iskandar Putri MP, who had been an opposition MP for decades before his party finally became part of the new government after the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018.
Lim was responding to a call by Umno President Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for Ronald Kiandee to step down from his position as PAC Chairman.
Zahid said that the former Sabah Umno leader should not be PAC chairman on account of him being in the position at the discretion of the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, who is Zahid, as the Barisan Nasional chairman.
“Zahid Hamidi is wrong. The PAC Chairman is not appointed at the discretion of the Opposition Leader, but by Parliament by way of a motion.
“The Pakatan Harapan government has accepted the convention that the PAC Chairman comes from the opposition, which means on the recommendation of the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, but the final decision lies with Parliament and not with the Opposition Leader.
“Zahid should realise that he does not appoint the PAC Chairman. He just recommends to Parliament on the nominee for the PAC Chairman,” the veteran MP, who is a former opposition leader said in a statement.
BN never had an opposition MP as PAC Chairman
Lim also slammed Zahid for even making such a suggestion when in fact the Umno/Barisan Nasional government had never allowed an opposition MP to chair the PAC in all its decades of rule.
However, Lim added that as part of PH’s reform of Parliament, it would be moved that no PAC Chairman should sit and examine government accounts for years when he or she was a government MP and not an Opposition MP.
“For instance, the latest set of Auditor-General’s Accounts are with regard to Federal Government Accounts for the year 2017, in other words, belonging to the period when Umno/BN was in government.
“It would be rather invidious for an Umno/BN MP at that time now to sit as PAC Chairman to examine accounts of the Federal Government for that period, as we will then have the ridiculous situation of the PAC Chairman sitting in judgment over the accounts of his own government,” Lim said.
Ronald, is a five-term BN MP for Beluran. However, from 2013-2018, he had been the Deputy Speaker in the Dewan Rakyat.
He is one of five Sabah Umno MPs who quit the party, along with nine Sabah state assemblymen on Wednesday. That left Umno and BN with only one MP and one state assemblyman in the state.
Yesterday, another six more Umno MPs, from six different states also announced their resignation from the embattled party.
Umno resignations to boost Bersatu position in PH govt?
Lim’s strong statement, however, belies the discord within PH over the likely movement of these Umno MPs and assemblymen to PH component, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), or Parti Warisan Sabah, for those who left Sabah Umno.
Warisan is led by former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who is also loyal to Bersatu chairman and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Bersatu President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
However, it is possible Bersatu will expand its tentacles to Sabah, having just launched its Sarawak branch last month.
Either way, Mahathir and Muhyiddin will carry more clout by adding 10 more MPs to its side in the PH government, in addition to the 13 from Bersatu and nine from Warisan.
Lim concedes ex-Umno leaders needed for Malay support
Lim was among those who expressed concern over the movement of Umno MPs to PH, questioning how the likes of Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak and Tan Sri Pandikar Amin, could even be admitted to the new government having defended or being complicit in covering up the 1MDB scandal while being part of the former government.
However, in an interview with Malaysiakini today, Lim seems to have conceded that DAP, PKR and Amanah are helpless as to the likelihood of these former Umno leaders and lawmakers becoming allies through Bersatu or Warisan.
He admitted that PH needed to boost its support among Malays, as it still only had about 25-30% of support from the majority group in the country.
He told the news portal that PH needed to boost its Malay support base or this government will last only one term.
“If we can’t, then PH will fail. The ‘New Malaysia’ will fail, and we can go back to pre-May 9,” he was quoted as saying.
Lim has previously been silent when former Umno stalwarts and those who had attacked DAP relentlessly in the past, also joined Bersatu, namely former ministers Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Datuk Seri Rais Yatim.