Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi’s three-minute statement on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM2.6 billion donation in his personal banking accounts is the greatest cop-out in Parliament in the nation’s history.
What happened in Parliament this morning will go down in the Malaysian parliamentary annals as another disgraceful episode as to why parliamentary reform is urgently needed – but meaningful parliamentary reforms cannot come from “sweet words” from the Speaker’s Chair but only from restoration of the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.
Parliament was made to commit a most cowardly and unchilvarous act today – to blow up the Nurul-Jacel photograph incident in the hope of covering up Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal.
Clearly, the UMNO/BN Government needed desperately to distract attention from Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal, especially as national and international attention had been building up for weeks to expect the Prime Minister to give a full and satisfactory accounting of his RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal today, the last day of the 25-day six-week parliamentary budget meeting.
What better distraction for Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal than the furore over the outrageous motion to convict the PKR Vice President and MP for Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar, of the heinous charge of breach of oath as an MP “to bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” and to refer her to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges for the penalties to be meted out.
It is now clear why the Dewan Rakyat adjourned yesterday at the unusually early hour of 4.30 p.m. after adopting the motion on the redelineation of Sarawak electoral constituencies, when there was a long list of official business to be transacted, with the government motion on Nurul next in line, followed by 13 government bills and three Treasury motions on the Order Paper.
The reason was simple. If the government motion to refer Nurul to the Committee of Privileges had been passed yesterday – and going by the one-hour debate given to the motion today, this could have been done by the usual adjournment time of from 5.30 pm to 5.45 pm even without the daily extension of the sitting into the night – there would be no major issue like the Nurul motion to distract attention from the RM2.6 billion Najib “donation” scandal today.
Right from the first day of the 25-day parliamentary meeting, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Azalina Othman Said, was in the forefront building up national and international attention and pressure for full and satisfactory government accounting on the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib personal banking accounts by declaring on the very first day on Oct. 19 that the government would answer questions about the RM2.6 billion “donation” received by Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and other related questions during the current meeting of Parliament although the exact date would only be determined later.
On Nov. 5, Azalina even announced to the media that the Prime Minister or a Minister will explain on the last day of the parliamentary meeting on Dec. 3 during the question-and-answer session on the controversial RM2.6 billion donation that went into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
This was why there was so much publicity and interest, not only in the country but internationally, whether Najib could really give a full and satisfactory accounting of the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal.
This was also why as the last day of the parliamentary meeting approached, there was so much interest and pressure for the government to honour its undertaking to give full and satisfactory accounting on Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal, and the reason for the deep and widespread frustration and even anger when late last night, it was found that there was no question on the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal which could get answered in the 90 minute Question Time!
The most pertinent question by Nurul was placed as the last of the Question List, No. 49, which was addressed to the Prime Minister for him to “menyatakan apakah yang berlaku kepada US$650 juta yang didakwa dipindahkan ke sebuah akaun kawalan Tanore Finance Corporation, Bank Falcon di Singapura yang akhirnya ditutup menurut laporan Sarawak Report, dan mengapakah wang tersebut dipindahkan ke akaun syarikat sekiranya wang itu merupakan wang derma”.
If Azalina was sincere that all the questions about the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal would be answered on the last day of the 25-day parliamentary sitting, why wasn’t Nurul’s question on the RM2.6 billion “donation” placed among the top three questions of today?
This morning, before Parliament met at 10 am, I issued a statement remarking that Azalina would have committed hara-kiri or seppuku in Parliament if she were in Japan and upholds the Bushido code of honour above life, as she had been caught red-handed telling lies in Parliament about the government giving answers about Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal during Question Time today.
We have then the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi standing up in Parliament after Question time today to make a controversial Ministerial statement on Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal – firstly, because the DPM should not be making any such Ministerial statement as the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal was not within the portfolios of responsibilities of the Deputy Prime Minister and secondly, because Zahid gave a cop-out which was no answer whatsoever.
Zahid’s three-minute statement was a total “cop out”, as he did not say anything new and merely reiterated that the RM2.6 billion was a political donation, that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had identified the donor and that Putrajaya could not elaborate on the RM2.6 billion deposited in Najib’s personal bank accounts as it would prejudice investigations by the authorities.
If this is the obstructionist and unco-operative attitude the government was going to take on all queries on Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal, why then didn’t Azalina and all Ministers say so right away, instead of leading all MPs, the country and the world up the garden’s path for six weeks of parliamentary meeting that the government would answer all questions about Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal in “one go”, on the last day of the parliamentary budget meeting on Dec. 3?
For instance, on the very first day of the parliamentary budget meeting on Oct. 19, the DAP MP for Bagan Lim Guan Eng asked Najib on the source of the RM2.6 billion donation, how was it spent and how much balance is left; who the money was spent on, if taxes were paid and if there was a formal declaration.
Why didn’t Azalina answer straightaway on Oct. 19 that the government was not going to answer such questions, claiming that it would prejudice ongoing investigations by the authorities – instead of holding out hope to the whole country and the world that answers would be forthcoming on the last day of parliamentary budget meeting today, and to end up in completely empty-handed?
Members of Parliament from Pakatan Harapan had submitted some 90 questions in the current meeting of Parliament related to Najib’s twin mega scandals – the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB – and they have been given the “run-around” waiting for answers on the last day of the parliamentary budget meeting today.
This is the height of parliamentary irresponsibility and Azalina should refer herself to the Committee of Privileges for gross breach of parliamentary privilege in performing her duties as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of parliamentary affairs.