PETALING JAYA: Former attorney-general Abu Talib Othman may have opened a can of worms when he questioned how the Dewan Rakyat Speaker knew that three former ministers had revealed government secrets when they raised the 1MDB issue during debate time last week.
Abu Talib wondered how Pandikar Amin Mulia, as head of the legislature, knew that the Cabinet had discussed the 1MDB issue. Also, how did he know what was discussed was classified information.
“Did somebody tell him about it? If that is the case, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker should have lodged a police report against that very person who told him,” Abu Talib told FMT.
He said this after police began investigations against former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, ex-finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah and former rural and regional development minister Shafie Apdal for allegedly divulging national secrets.
“I am going by the logic of the Speaker. How does he know what was spoken by the three was discussed in the Cabinet and that it was classified information?”
Pandikar held a press conference on October 27 where he said the three ministers may have broken their oath of secrecy when they brought up the 1MDB issue while debating Budget 2017 in the Dewan Rakyat.
Several laws such as the Official Secrets Act and the Sedition Act, could be used against such MPs, he had said.
This resulted in Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) and Sahabat N87 Federal Territory lodging police reports against the three former ministers for allegedly revealing government secrets.
Abu Talib, who retired in 1993, said it was quite unusual for Pandikar to come out publicly over the matter because a Speaker conducted proceedings in the House in compliance with rules of procedures.
Former Court of Appeal judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof also felt Pandikar should not be giving his view on the law outside the Dewan Rakyat as he could have raised the matter by referring it through the Standing Orders.
“He could have raised it when the matter was being discussed with reference to the Standing Orders so that those affected could justify their action. To comment on it later is prejudicial to those affected, and uncalled for,” he told Malaysiakini.
In a separate report, Malaysiakini said Haniff Khatri, a lawyer to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had accused Pandikar of inciting police reports against the former ministers.
Haniff had said that as Pandikar had made his statement outside Parliament, he did not enjoy parliamentary protection.
He also alleged that Pandikar’s statement of inciting police reports against the MPs was “an act detrimental to parliamentary democracy”.
“This is because he tried to prevent MPs from carrying out their duties in debating and discussing relevant issues in Parliament, in accordance with the Federal Constitution,” Haniff told Malaysiakini.
Meanwhile, Abu Talib said the police would have to complete their investigation on the matter since reports have been lodged.
“They are duty bound to investigate if an alleged crime has been committed. It is up to the public prosecutor to decide whether to frame charges based on credible evidence to be placed before the court,” he said.
Police have postponed recording Husni’s statement to next week while Muhyiddin has been summoned to be questioned also sometime next week.