Don’t use national security as an excuse to restrict freedom of information, PAC chairman tells Ahmad Zahid

0

Public Accounts Committee chairman Wong Kah Woh speaks during a press conference at Parliament August 3, 2022. – Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 9): Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Wong Kah Woh today reminded Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that the committee was only carrying out its duty entrusted by Dewan Rakyat in ensuring that the expenditure of the people’s money is protected in connection with the littoral combat ships (LCS) scandal.

He said the PAC has a responsibility under Dewan Rakyat’s Meeting Regulations (PPMMDR) to examine all government accounts including any other matter that it deems appropriate to scrutinise.

“As PAC Chairman, I will not allow the name of national security to be used arbitrarily and simply to prevent the people from knowing real information about how the government spends their money,” he said.

He reminded Ahmad Zahid that after his appearance before the PAC on October 25, 2021, as former defence minister together with Datuk Seri Muez Abdul Aziz, secretary-general of the Ministry of Defence, Hansard was sent to him via registered post and he was given seven days to make any corrections.

“For the record, Ahmad Zahid did not make any amendments, corrections, or cuts to any information given in the proceedings he attended,” Wong said.

He also said that the PAC report on the LCS issue is based on facts, documents and evidence gathered by the committee throughout the proceedings, adding that the discourse by Malaysians on the issue shows how much the people want to know what really happened in the LCS project.

Besides that, Wong gave an example of how the PAC handles sensitive information, citing the PAC Proceedings related to the Procurement of the Covid-19 Vaccine and its Use Against Malaysians, in which it reached an agreement with Khairy Jamaluddin, then minister of Science, Technology and Information, to remove the procurement price of Covid-19 vaccines from Hansard.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Ahmad Zahid claimed that PAC should be more discreet in conducting its investigations, especially with issues connected to national security.

On Sunday, he denied any involvement in the alleged mismanagement of the LCS project, saying that he was not defence minister at the time.

On August 8, the PAC released a report revealing that the Malaysian government had paid RM6.083 billion to contractor Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd for the supply of six LCS vessels, but none of the vessels have been completed, despite the original schedule showing that five of the vessels should have been completed and handed over by this month.

The LCS project is the largest procurement in the history of the Ministry of Defence. – Malay Mail