Speaker won’t chair debate on decision not to refer LGE to parliamentary committee

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff has announced he will not chair a debate, in the October sitting, on his decision not to refer Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee.

The opposition bloc, which is appealing against the decision, had earlier asked him to withdraw from being the chairman.

This follows the speaker’s acknowledgement that his son was press secretary to Lim, who is also Bagan MP.

Opposition leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob told reporters at the Parliament lobby today: “We assume there is a conflict of interest. The issue about Bagan MP is the one that needs to be discussed, and needs to be decided on. In our view, there is a conflict of interest.”

Ismail added that he would be submitting a fresh letter today asking for two motions to be debated.

The first is to debate the entire Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report.

The second, is to review Ariff’s decision yesterday against a motion made by the opposition to refer Lim to the rights and privileges committee.

Ismail added that both motions would be debated at the next parliamentary sitting.

“Maybe a different speaker will chair that discussion,” Ismail added.

Yesterday, Ariff had decided that Lim would not be referred to Parliament’s rights and privileges committee, despite the opposition’s push for this on its contention that the finance minister had misled the house over the goods and services tax (GST) refunds issue.

“There is no prima facie case against Bagan, who is also the finance minister, that he misled the Dewan,” Ariff had said, referring to Lim’s constituency.

Earlier this week, the PAC confirmed that no GST refund money had gone missing although there had been a violation of the Goods and Services Tax Act 2014 when the funds were transferred into a Consolidated Revenue Account instead of the GST Refund Account.

Last August, Lim had claimed the former Barisan Nasional (BN) government had “robbed” RM19.4 billion worth of GST collections.

Opposition MPs staged a walkout yesterday after Ariff made his ruling.