Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, who had been the eighth Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, should have known of the famous parliamentary episode in the United Kingdom some four hundreds years ago on 4th January 1642 when King Charles I entered the House of Commons to arrest five Members of Parliament for high treason.
When the King asked the Speaker at the time, William Lenthall, if he knew of the location of these members, the Speaker famously replied:” “May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here; and humbly beg your Majesty’s pardon that I cannot give any other answer than this to what your Majesty is pleased to demand of me.”
I am not suggesting that Pandikar should emulate William Lenthall and be prepared to sacrifice his political career let alone his life to protect Parliamentary honours, privileges and immunity, but I stand corrected if he is not the only Speaker in the world to openly suggest – or to use the words of Tun Mahathir’s lawyer, Haniff Khaliri, “incite” – police reports or police action against Members of Parliament when he called a media conference last Thursday to suggest that the three former Cabinet Ministers, former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the former Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Husni Hanadzlan might have broken their oaths of secrecy as Cabinet Ministers when debating the Budget 2017 in Parliament – which was as good as a public reprimand of the Attorney-General and the Inspector-General for dereliction of duty and instigation for them to act against Muhyhiddin, Shafie and Husni.
I have re-read the speeches of Muhyiddin, Shafie and Husni in the Parliament Hansard, which confirm that neither one of them had said anything during their speeches in the 2017 Budget debate to reveal any Cabinet secret which Malaysians and the world have not known before about the 1MDB financial scandal.
I fully agree with Shafie, the President of Parti Warisan Sabah, who is puzzled as to how Pandikar knows about the speeches by the three former Cabinet Ministers breached the Official Secrets Act (OSA) when the Speaker was not privy to Cabinet discussions on 1MDB and would not know if anything said in the cabinet sessions was repeated by them in Parliament.
Shafie had asked:
“I don’t know what (under) the Official Secrets Act has been revealed by us in Parliament and I just wonder (how) did the speaker know the very fact there is (information that is sealed) under OSA.
“Who revealed to him?” the former rural development and regional minister asked.
This is a good question, which Pandikar should answer in his next media conference.
I commend the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani for saying that he saw no wrong in Husni’s speech, as Johari should know better than Pandikar whether the three former Ministers had violated Cabinet secrecy in their speeches in Parliament.
I had thought that good sense had finally prevailed and that there would be a good end to the sudden and completely unnecessary crisis over parliamentary privileges and immunities of Malaysian MPs when the police postponed their interview with Husni on Monday.
But the police summon of the former Deputy Prime Minister to record his statement over allegations of leaking cabinet secrets while debating the 2017 budget, although the exact date has not been finalized, seems to show that the parliamentary crisis created by Pandikar as a result of his media conference last Thursday is very much alive.
This was why I made the call to Pandikar yesterday to publicly retract his media conference statement last Thursday that the three former Cabinet Ministers might have broken their oaths of secrecy as Cabinet Ministers and to publicly and boldly reiterate and reaffirm the traditional parliamentary principle that Malaysian MPs enjoy parliamentary privileges and immunity and the police should not challenge the parliamentary privileges of Members of Parliament except in clear-cut cases provided by the Constitution, viz violating the Sedition Act 1948 in questioning “any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution” – which does not apply in the speeches of Muhyiddin, Shafie and Husni.
The debate on the 2017 budget by parliamentary backbenchers have ended after six days of debate, and the three-day Ministers’ replies begin today.
I call on the Prime Minister to be in Parliament on the final day of Ministerial winding-up next Monday on 8th November to assure Parliament that his government would uphold, honour and respect the traditional parliamentary privileges and immunities of Malaysian MPs and that his government would not countenance any police or criminal action against MPs for speaking up in Parliament on the 1MDB scandal.