KUALA LUMPUR: A shouting match erupted in Parliament over the debate on the 2021 Auditor-General’s Report, with the opposition claiming that doing so contravened standing orders.
Takiyuddin Hassan (PN-Kota Bharu) said the report had been thoroughly vetted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and further debate would only waste the Dewan Rakyat’s time.
He said by going ahead to debate the report, Parliament was setting a precedent because, by law, the report only need be laid before the lower house.
“We agree with the part of the motion where action must be taken as per the auditor-general’s (A-G) recommendation, but a debate is not necessary,” he said when the matter was raised.
A shouting match between government and opposition MPs ensued, as they jostled for Speaker Johari Abdul’s attention.
Backbenchers accused the opposition of not wanting supposed misdeeds from the Perikatan Nasional-led regime to come to light, while the opposition said debating the report was illegal.
Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (PN-Masjid Tanah), who is the present PAC chair, said the report fell under the purview of the committee, and not Parliament.
“We should be debating PAC reports, not the Auditor-General’s Report,” she said.
Mas Ermieyati also said the government was better off heeding a call for PAC sessions to be made public. Presently, all such sessions are private.
Radzi Jidin (PN-Putrajaya) said it was highly “inefficient” for Parliament to debate what was painstakingly answered in the report by each ministry involved.
He said a debate would have a bearing on the Dewan Rakyat’s efficiency as the answers were already in the report, rendering it a futile exercise.
“Now, we have government officers carrying loads of documents into Dewan Rakyat… and the answers that are about to be given in this debate are the same, a waste of time,” he said.
Awang Hashim (PN-Pendang) said the A-G had already held an audit exit conference.
However, Hassan Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang) said the report must be debated because it involved taxpayers’ money and was a matter of national interest.
“Parliament is the highest authority to discuss financial matters. It is not coffee shop talk. Why can’t we take a look (at the report)?
“Just because all this while we have not done so, it does not mean we cannot,” he said.
RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) said the opposition’s reluctance was understandable, given the report sheds light on former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government.
“They (the opposition) don’t want this to be debated as there was a lot of waste (unnecessary expenses) during Pagoh’s leadership,” he said, referring to Muhyiddin.
Johari then said the report must be debated for the sake of national interest because PAC proceedings were never made public.
“It is the responsibility of the PAC chair and her 12 members to choose what is said here (in the debate).
“As a former civil servant and elected representative for 15 years, many have asked for such reports by the A-G to be debated openly. I hereby order this to be debated.”
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