Honour requires Datuk Hasan Arifin to resign as Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman for his obnoxious “cari makan” remark or he should be referred to the Committee of Privileges to determine whether his “cari makan” remark had brought shame, disrepute and dishonour to PAC and Parliament, and therefore a gross breach of parliamentary privilege.
Compounding his egregious breach of parliamentary privilege, Hasan has added insult to injury by resorting to the final ruse of a desperate and dishonest politician – blaming the media for reporting what he had actually said.
Hasan messed up a very bad situation with his subsequent clarification attempting to do the impossible – to deny and to admit with qualification, one at the same time, which is an impossible job of trying to square the circle!
On the one hand, Hasan denied the quip when he claimed that he literally meant ‘looking for food’ when he uttered, ‘Saya pun cari makan’.
But in the same breath, he admitted the quip but tried to excuse himself with extenuating circumstances, blaming the reporters as unethical in undermining his reputation as PAC Chairman and a politician in publishing his quip as he had informed the media that it should not be reported as it was “just a joke”.
Further admitting that he had actually made the offensive remark, Hasan said it was off the record as it was made in jest with the intention to be friendly with the media, for whom he provided lunch.
He said: “As the press conference was coming to a close, I invited the media to lunch and after that joked ‘saya pun cari makan’ to create a more friendly environment with the media.”
Can Hasan make up his mind – is he admitting or denying that he had made the offensive remark?
I had viewed the video recording of Hasan’s press conference remark and there is no doubt that Hasan was not telling the truth, as he made the remark 14 minutes into his 18-minute long press conference, while the media was only invited to lunch at the beginning and towards the tail-end of the press conference.
Hasan also did not state that his remark was off the record.
Hasan should have acted with honesty and honour as expected of a PAC Chairman, admit his mistake and take the medicine for such parliamentary breach of privilege, instead of trying to equivocate, quibble or weasel out of a bad situation of his own creation.
As the Public Accounts Committee would want all witnesses appearing before it to “speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, how can PAC has a Chairman who has the reputation of being the very opposite of such high standards of honesty and integrity?
The last thing MPs and Malaysians want from their PAC members is for them to have the “cari makan” mentality and mind-set in discharging their duties.
What is the reason for Hasan’s shocking stand that PAC is not calling the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to appear before the PAC in its investigations into the 1MDB scandal.
Let Hasan explain the rationale for not calling Najib to the PAC investigation when Najib is the only person in the world who knows the ins-and-outs of the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals, as the 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is only the latest highly-paid “operative” to join the “revolving-door” teams of 1MDB operatives in the past six years to be the 1MDB “public face”.
Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanazlah had admitted when he was appointed the Cabinet spokesman on 1MDB in the middle of the year that Najib, as the Prime Minister, was the final approving authority for all 1MDB deals, investment and transactions and that Najib’s written approval was needed for any financial deal undertaken by 1MDB.
Under these circumstances, any PAC investigation into 1MDB without calling Najib to testify would be an utter waste of time and reduce the PAC investigation into a charade.
Worse, PAC members would be guilty of gross dereliction of duty in failing to summon Najib as the person who knows the most about the 1MDB to testify at the PAC investigations.
Hasan also made the startling statement that Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal is not related to 1MDB, and he quoted as authority the Auditor-General’s Interim Report on 1MDB which was submitted to the PAC in July.
Was Hasan right that the Auditor-General in his Interim Report on 1MDB had reached the conclusion that Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal and the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal are two “entirely different subjects” or did Hasan misread the Auditor-General’s Interim Report?
The first thing the PAC Chairman should do is to table the Auditor-General’s Interim Report on the 1MDB in Parliament so that Members of Parliament on both sides of the House can know whether Hasan was right in reaching the conclusion that the twin mega scandals are two “entirely different subjects”.
(Speech at the ceramah in conjunction with the launching of Parti Amanah Negara Gelang Patah in Kangkar Baru on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 10 pm)