By Tony Pua
Three days after the furore of the Guinness Malaysia Book of Records-breaking feat of rejecting more than 30 questions in relation to 1MDB, Parliament speaker Pandikar Amin finally broke his silence.
He argued that Parliament questions are “subject to rules and procedures”.
“If the questions are accusations, assumptions, offensive, or made up, of course, I will throw it out,” the speaker said.
He also argued that questions in the House can’t be sub judice and affect court cases such as the civil forfeiture suits brought on by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
Unfortunately, while the reasons he gave may have sounded reasonable at the first instance, they do not stand up to any scrutiny when you conduct an objective evaluation of some of the questions posed.
I had a record five questions rejected – more than anyone else, and the most I’ve had rejected in any parliamentary sitting over the past eight to nine years.
None of my questions were rejected because they were “sub-judice”. I was careful to avoid my questions being canned for the above reason, invalid as it might be, when drafting my parliamentary questions.
They were all rejected because of presumably questionable assumptions (“sangkaan”) or because they were a figment of my imagination (“buah fikiran”).
In a question, I had asked what is the current value of 1MDB’s investment in “units” previously valued at US$2.3 billion and who is the current “custodian bank”.
This wasn’t the first time I had asked the above question.
Although the replies given by the finance minister were never satisfactory, at least the question was never rejected in the past. Why was it rejected now?
Worse, both the finance minister(s) and 1MDB had released official statements with regard to 1MDB’s investment in these “units” which were previously held by BSI Bank as the “custodian bank”. Neither of these facts were “sangkaan” or “buah fikiran” on my part.
Therefore, the basis of rejecting the question is outrageous and a clear-cut abuse of the speaker’s powers. The only reason I could think of for the speaker to reject the question is to cover up possibly scandalous details behind the mysterious “units” investment.
Unless of course, the speaker is now saying that the “units” were indeed a figment of Najib Razak, the finance minister’s imagination.
In addition, my question on whether the attorney-general (AG) had investigated the claims made in the latest DoJ suit to seize up to US$1.7 billion worth of laundered assets from 1MDB funds was similarly and incomprehensibly rejected because it was deemed a “sangkaan”.
Tan Sri Speaker, if you could read my question properly, I did not ask about the contents of the suit, nor did I presume the veracity of the facts raised by the US DoJ suit.
All I asked was whether the AG had investigated the very serious allegations which had severely damaged the reputation and honour of Najib and the Malaysian government.
After all, Apandi Ali himself has openly stated in the media that the suit filed by the US DoJ was “politically motivated”. The question I raised merely presented the opportunity for the AG to state his case.
Why was it really rejected? Was it because the AG had no case and the speaker wanted to spare Apandi the embarrassment?
We call upon the speaker to re-evaluate the rejection of the above and other questions presented by the members of Parliament.
Pandikar had asked, even if it was in jest, that journalists be fair to him and to put him in a good light. I am absolutely certain that if he actually acts impartially, all journalists will write good things about him.
However, if he acts like he was covering up for 1MDB, the single largest financial scandal which has afflicted the country, any impartial journalist would have nothing good to say about both the speaker and the Parliament.
Tony Pua is Petaling Jaya Utara MP and DAP national publicity secretary.
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