Motion amended to refer Najib to Rights and Privileges Committee

Former prime minister Najib Razak.

KUALA LUMPUR: The motion to suspend former prime minister Najib Razak from the Dewan Rakyat has been amended to refer him to Parliament’s Rights and Privileges Committee instead.

The motion was tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong.

The original motion sought to suspend Najib from the Dewan Rakyat for three months over the violation of an embargo on the Felda White Paper.

It said Najib, who is Pekan MP, had breached Clause 95A of the Standing Orders.

Najib reportedly posted excerpts of the white paper on his Facebook on Tuesday despite an embargo on the document which was only lifted at 11.30am yesterday.

The excerpts were on Felda’s purchase of a 37% stake in Indonesia’s Eagle High Plantation.

In the debate in the lower house, Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera) questioned the rush to bring the motion against Najib.

“I am so perplexed,” he said. “Yesterday we received the motion to suspend Pekan for three months. Suddenly this morning, it was amended to refer him to the Rights and Privileges Committee.

“It seems so rash, as if there is a hidden agenda against Pekan,” the opposition leader added.

He also said details of the white paper were already published on the Parliament website on April 9, a day before the document was tabled.

“When it is published, the public has access to it. So there is no more embargo. The embargo is cancelled.

“So when Pekan posts anything concerning the white paper on Facebook, it can no longer be deemed as breaching the embargo,” he said, adding that action should be taken against the person who uploaded the document on the website, not Najib.

Opposition leaders Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) and Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang) also raised similar points concerning the embargo.

Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (PAS-Kubang Kerian) said once the document is made available on the website, the purpose of the embargo is lost.

“If it is already uploaded on the website, there is no meaning referring Pekan to the committee.

“We need to take the middle path. The lower house needs to warn both sides not to repeat this,” he said, calling for the motion to be withdrawn.

Johari Abdul (PH-Sungai Petani) meanwhile said this was not the first time an MP had been referred to the committee. He noted that former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, too, had been referred to the committee.

“He will have the space to defend himself,” he added.

He also questioned the authenticity of the document uploaded on the website, which earned him a rebuke from Bung who said the former was “naughty” to dispute “the validity of an official website”.

The PKR chief whip responded however that he was merely asking if the document had been uploaded by someone in authority.

Lim Kit Siang (PH-Iskandar Puteri) said the issue was simple and straightforward.

“I am of the view that the move to refer Pekan to the committee is the right move. There is no pre-judgement.

“Also, whether it is true that Parliament had already uploaded the report, that needs to be probed as well. Two wrongs do not make a right,” he said.