By Tony Pua
On 27 November, DAP Senai elected representative, Wong Shu Qi had asked in the Johor State Assembly whether it was true that Khaled Nordin had received RM12 million from a developer to change the Bumiputera status of a residential plot of land to non-Bumiputera.
Wong said the allegations against Khaled had surfaced in March and were based on witness statements in an investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
As a result of her question, she was not only thrown out of the state assembly and is in the process of being referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee. The Police have also commenced investigations against what she asked.
Firstly, the investigation by the police demonstrates a clear abuse of power on their part by failing to respect the sanctity of the Johor state assembly.
The Federal Constitution, the highest law of our land, clearly states that assemblymen are immune from things said in state legislative proceedings. Clause 72(2) of the Constitution states that: No person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him when taking part in proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of any State or of any committee thereof.
The reason for this protection needs no explanation – but for the benefit of our law enforcers – elected representatives must be empowered to state and ask without fear or favour regardless of how scandalous and sensitive the subject matter might be. This process exists to ensure transparency and accountability in national and state administrations.
If one can’t even ask questions of our leaders in the state assembly, then where else can we ask these questions to ensure the righteousness and integrity of our Government?
Are the Police of the opinion that the Menteri Besar of Johor is above the law, to the extent that even questioning his alleged involvement in a corruption case is criminal?
Worse, the Police are clearly clutching at straws to investigate and persecute Wong. Wong has purportedly committed an offence under Section 203A of the Penal Code which provides that anyone who discloses purportedly leaked information to any other person shall be punished with a fine of not more than one million ringgit, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with both.
The problem here is what leaked information is illegal? When fraudulent contracts signed by 1MDB with Petrosaudi International and Aabar Investment PJS Limited involving billions of dollars were exposed, does it then mean that every person who had written about it – from analysts to politicians to both online and off-line media are all guilty of the above crime?
That would only result in the complete collapse of Malaysia’s natural justice system where the whistleblowers are persecuted while those involved in crimes against the taxpayers get away scot free.
Wong is also being investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which refers to “improper use of network facilities or network service, etc.”
The fact that a leaked witness statement relating to the corruption allegations against Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin might amount to ‘communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person’ is clearly an outrageous abuse of the law.
My question to the Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission remains the same – have they initiated and commenced investigations against Dato’ Seri Khaled based on the very witness statement which is being used to charge another member of the Johor administration for corrupt practices?
If the Johor Menteri Besar is indeed innocent, let the investigations prove that to be the case and clear Dato’ Seri Khalid’s name. However, the fact that no investigations have been carried out against the Menteri Besar, but those who had the courage to question the case even within the protective confines of the state assembly are persecuted, only serve to confirm the suspicions in the minds of the rakyat as to Dato’ Seri Khalid’s guilt or innocence.
Tony Pua is Petaling Jaya Utara MP and DAP National Publicity Secretary.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.