CEP should be disbanded: Khairy

KUALA LUMPUR: The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) should be disbanded if they are seen to be overstepping their roles, said opposition lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin.

The former Youth and Sports Minister was commenting on CEP head Tun Daim Zainuddin's visit to China recently to renegotiate deals Malaysia had made with China and stressed that the council has no force in law.

"The establishment of the CEP was not even done by federal administration as it was formed before Cabinet. It was the prime minister's decision, who can at any time disband it," he said at a press conference at the Parliament lobby today.

He said the CEP is an unofficial council which was tasked to advise the prime minister and has a wide remit.

"I believe the CEP has now gone beyond that remit," he said.

Earlier, the Dewan Rakyat witnessed a heated exchange when Khairy questioned just how powerful the CEP is.

During the Ministers Question Time, the Rembau MP insinuated that the CEP appeared to be more powerful than its stated advisory role, as seen in its purported ability to order Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif to resign from the top judicial position.

"That was not an advice. That was an order," he said as loud murmurs reverberated among other opposition MPs in Parliament.

Khairy then further questioned the extent of CEP's influence by alluding to the recent China visit by Daim, as well as its member Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Abdul Aziz's appointment to chair both Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Sime Darby Property Bhd.

"When will this unelected CEP be abolished?" Khairy asked Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

The minister then reminded Khairy that CEP's establishment is the norm as previous BN administrations had also set up special advisory bodies.

"(The issue of) accountability and locus standi (of the CEP) does not arise as it is a body with no legal power. Its advice (to the government) is non-binding," said Liew.

Khairy then asked Liew whether Daim's visit to China was in a mere advisory capacity.

Amid loud whispers among MPs, Liew countered that the visit was "just a visit" as Daim was asked to do so by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"CEP was only established for a 100 days. After 100 days, it will be disbanded," he said.