Anwar denied right to counsel at panel hearing

By Clara Chooi | The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — The Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee has summarily rejected Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s application to allow his counsel to attend his hearing on the APCO-Israel issue today.

Committee members Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) and R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) told a press conference in Parliament after the panel concluded its meeting that the decision was made after the votes were taken from the members.

“Anwar Ibrahim (picture) has been denied counsel. He cannot appear with counsel.

“The decision was made whereby I and Subang (Sivarasa) were against it while all four Barisan Nasional committee members were for it.

“The vote was not unanimous,” said Karpal.

A total of seven lawmakers sit on the panel including Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia as chairman and six members — Karpal, Sivarasa, Datuk Razali Ibrahim (BN-Muar), Nancy Shukri (BN-Batang Sadong), Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee (BN-Beluran) and Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn (BN-Alor Gajah).

“It was a four-two vote score,” said Karpal.

He noted that the decision was a far-reaching one as it went against the rules of “common sense and natural justice”.

“Standing Order 83 Rule 7A clearly states that a person under trial is allowed his right to have his counsel present during such a hearing like this,” he said.

Karpal added that the hearing would proceed tomorrow without the presence of Anwar while a representative from APCO Worldwide would be present to give evidence on behalf of the company.

“This again goes against the rules of natural justice because you cannot take evidence in the absence of a person accused of an offence.

“We take a serious view on what has just happened; we would have thought that Anwar would have been given a right to counsel and to full representation. Let us see what happens tomorrow,” he said.

Anwar is facing the committee for making statements in Parliament’s last session linking APCO, a public relations firm employed by the government, to the Zionist Israeli regime.

He also claimed that APCO was the brainchild behind the prime minister’s 1 Malaysia concept and the One Israel campaign.

Sivarasa said according to Standing Order 83 Rule 7A, parties whose conduct forms the subject matter of the investigation by the committee would be allowed the right to counsel representation during the hearing.

“This is why Anwar applied. He stands accused of the offence and if found guilty, he will suffer penal consequences. It is fundamental principles of justice but the majority was against it.

“After all, we have agreed that even if APCO should require it, they can be represented by their lawyer but here the main person in question is denied this right,” said Sivarasa.

He noted that the decision could not be appealed.

“There is no appealing and at this point Anwar will be summoned again on a later date yet to be fixed to stand before the committee. However for now, the hearing proceeds tomorrow at 11.30am without his presence,” he said.

Karpal, however, said the matter would likely be raised once the committee makes its recommendations to the House.

On the banning of MPs from attending the hearing, Sivarasa said the Standing Orders were silent on the matter.

“However, we believe that like in the UK, of which we share the same parliamentary practice, MPs should be allowed into the hearing to merely observe the proceedings — not to disrupt but just to observe,” said Sivarasa.

Earlier today, Anwar attempted to attend the meeting with a large team of Pakatan Rakyat MPs and his lawyer but were blocked from doing so.

The committee then told him that his counsel, former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan, would be allowed into the hearing but would not be allowed to make submissions or ask questions.

Following his appeal, Pandikar Amin agreed that the committee would reconsider his application for counsel representation. The meeting proceeded until 1.40pm.

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 5:39 pm

    ///Pandikar Amin agreed that the committee would reconsider his application for counsel representation.///

    The Speaker’s answer may just be: Anwar’s counsels -Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) and R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang)- are already sitting as 2 of the 7 “judges” in the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee (“PRPC”)’s panel/committee hearing his case!

    May it not be argued that he cannot appear with counsels because his counsels (representing him in other cases in courts) are already sitting on that bench of judgment in the PRPC?

    What a joke ! Why don’t we make a greater farce by saying that if his application for counsel were rejected – which is allegedly against the rules of “common sense and natural justice” – then why not have Karpal and Sivarasa play dual roles of counsel for Anwar and judge at the same time? That’s even more confusing isn’t it?

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 5:42 pm

    Who is going to be counsel for Minister of Finance at the PRPC (if, and assuming Tony Pua succeeds in referring the former to PRPC for making misleading statement on re-issuance of sports betting licence to Ascot Sports)? The Attorney General?

  3. #3 by House Victim on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 8:25 pm

    A totally nonsense to abuse the basic Rights of anyone before the law as stipulated in the Constitution!!
    Article 8
    1. All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.
    Which is to be represented by Counsel!!

    It is more than nonsense when this is before a Rights & Privilege Committee at PARLIAMENT LEVEL!!

    What is Constitution meant to this PRPC? LOL!!

  4. #4 by BoycottLocalPapers on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 8:40 pm

    I am losing faith in Anwar Ibrahim not because of Sodomy 2 case but for his lack of principles (e.g. Katak lompat on September 16, anti-Jews, etc).

    So what if APCO has link with Israel or 1 Malaysia is copied from One Israel or APCO executives were former Zionist agents or our police force had been penetrated by Israel. Does it really matter? The Intel microprocessor in our computers were made in Israel. Who know what the Israelis had put inside Intel microprocessors. Probably they are using that microchips to spy on all of us.

    If you’re anti-Israel, then you better stop using computer. Ban Intel-based computers altogether from police headquarters. Replace computers with typewriters.

    1 Malaysia is a good concept provided Najib is walking the talk.

    Pakatan Rakyat shouldn’t attack 1Malaysia for the sake of attacking, shouldn’t bark for the sake of barking, and shouldn’t howl for the sake of howling. Don’t be a cynical!

    This country is going bankrupt in 9 years time and our leaders are busy with putting Anwar Ibrahim in jail and childish arguments at the Parliament. Very sad to see that there is no hope for Malaysia.

  5. #5 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 9:05 pm

    The Committee simply bulldozed thru with their ‘brute majority.”

    That’s how the term gained currency i.e. when the majority decides against all rules of fairness or justice and just behave like brutes!

    Why can’t parliamentarians behave like civilised men with conscience?

  6. #6 by pulau_sibu on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 9:34 pm

    BoycottLocalPapers, what is the value for Israeli to spy on us? what would they gain? I think they would be just wasting their time by doing so. We are not USA, so I doubt who will be interested in us.

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 10:08 pm

    Does it make any difference?

    Consistent with what has been going on all these years, we can already guess what the result / decision is going to be: 4 – 2.

    But in the PM’s case, its OK. He did no wrong. Otherwise how can 72% of the people have confidence in him?

  8. #8 by good coolie on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 12:06 am

    UMNO still does not realise that by hounding Anwar, Barisan would simply lose the next elections. Let Anwar go, for old times’ sake!

  9. #9 by Dipoh Bous on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 9:59 am

    72% have confidence in PM???

    I wonder who the respondents are.

    But then, perhaps that might make him call GE13 sooner before the % – age drops…

    72%….my foot !!!

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 10:15 am

    If as what R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) says – that by Standing Order 83 Rule 7A allows the right to counsel during the hearing – then Anwar should be accorded that right: thats the end of the matter. No two ways about it.

    Actually this argument about whether Anwar should be given right to counsel is not the main issue. The main issue is whether he ought to have been referred to Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee (PRPC) in the first place for breach of parliamentary privilege. He is accused of “misleading” Parliament for saying APCO has Jewish links and that 1 Malaysia was copied from 1 Israel. APCO’s worldwide CEO will be coming to testify that what Anwar said is untrue.

    The key question is : so what if Anwar’s said is untrue or cannot be proven by him true or if PRPC finds it false and misleading?

    Let me just ask this question: how many things said by MPs on either side of the aisle – whether BN or PR can stand the test of verification? To refer Anwar to PRPC for his allegatiuons is to evince a complete lack of understanding of what is “freedom of speech” of which not only ordinary citizens enjoy as a constitutional right but their MPs would enjoy doubly more under Parliamentary Immunity in Parliament. That immunity stops where statements are seditious but since when does it stop just because it is false and misleading?

    Freedom of speech encompasses the right to say the true as well as erroneous/misleading things! This is the gist of what the greatest proponent of Free Speech John Stuart Mill said in his treatise “On Liberty” in justification of all kind of speeches whether true or untrue: If opinion expressed is right and true every one benefits from it; if the opinion is erroneous and false it shopuld still be expressed so that those who hold the truth can argue debate and expose its fallacies so that in that contestation between error against truth, error may be exposed, and truth be giver “clearer and livelier impression”….

    In that spirit what Anwar said about APCO’s Jewish link and 1 Malaysia carbonm coipy of 1 Isreal should be debated in Parliament and exposed by BN MPs as false. Are we saying that by virtue of BN MPs not having the capability to argue and debate rationally to rebut Anwar and expose the falsity of his statements in open chamber Anwar should be assigned to some smaller committee like PRPC to be adjudged by a Committee dominated by opposing political faction as deliberately “misleading” of Parliament and therefore punished?

    This negates the whole idea of Free Speech: it negates because it assumes MPs cannot make statements unproven false or misleading when ¾ of parliamentary speeches in Parliaments all over the world in political contestation and mud sliging cannot pass the test of verification and truth! Come on if Anwar has made this allegation as a politician outside Parliament, and not MP within, what action would be taken against him and how does the PRPC come in? Its a joke that he gets punished for saying things in a place he is supposed top enjoy immunity where he’s likely not be outside! Anwar has documents to prove his case. Supposing he draws the wrong conclusions from these documents, he is illogical in arguments, his conclusions misleading – so what?? Unless he fabricated and forged documents to further his case, whatever he does is under umbrella of Freedom of Speech, that refering him to PRPC negates and shows a lack of understanding of what Freedom of Speech is about.

  11. #11 by Voter get Voters campaign for PR on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 1:10 pm

    To ALL readers & commentators : Complained and whinned ALL you want,there is NOTHING,absolutely NOTHING you ALL can do. However there is one and ONLY one thing which we ALL can and SHOULD do viz is start your own “VOTER-get-VOTERS” campaign for PR. Do it not tommorrow but NOW cos GE13 is just around the corner..closer than you think. Start this ” VOTER-get-VOTERS 4 PR” campaign NOW by chain emails,sms,words of mouth to everyone….for a BETTER Malaysia..Join us at “VOTER-get-VOTERS for a Better Malaysia ” in facebook.

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 5:06 pm

    This referring of Anwar to Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee (PRPC) smacks of unfairness. As I said if his allegations linking APCO and Jews and 1 Malaysia to 1 Israel are misleading, why not debate and expose his fallacies on the floor – but why refer him to PRPC with the decision to so refer being made not because it is a right thing to do but because Umno-BN lawmakers who are majority could flex their muscle to do so by votes, subjecting him to be tried (once again) by a panel (PRPC) equally dominated by BN law makers? It really matters not whether he is given right to counsel or not because he expects to be found guilty anyway and to get suspended.

    The calculation here on the ruling coalition’s side is that whatever punishment meted to him by PRPC – and even if Anwar were to taken to task for taking to road reformasi protests over his possible suspension by PRPC – will not be condemned by Uncle Sam this time around because Anwar here has linked the American company APCO to Zionists and made statements perceived anti-Semitic, especially when he had just recently led a demonstration to protest the Freedom Flotilla in front of the American Embassy, against the Americans for what Israel’s commandoes had allegedly done.

    Anwar is, by his recent anti Israel rhetoric banking, on Malay Muslim support for whatever he does but should he miscalculate, and that should some of support shift back to Najib [ whose approval rating has supposedly hit a record high at 72 percent according to independent pollster Merdeka Centre], Anwar might not be able to count on US’s backing this time around.

  13. #13 by good coolie on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 9:17 pm

    Instead of making foolish anti-Israel statements, the Muslim world should encourage the Palestinians to achieve a “modus-vivendi” with Israel. The Palestinians are the most affected people, in direct contact with the Israelis – let them make peace with Israel even if they (the Palestinians) cannot get all that they want. Time will work out justice for them. For the moment half a peace is worth more than no piece at all.

    Give moderate Palestinians a chance. Stop supporting Hamas. That would pull the rug from under the feet of Israel.

  14. #14 by good coolie on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 9:20 pm

    Oop! Half a piece is worth more than no peace at all.

  15. #15 by good coolie on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 - 9:21 pm

    Oops! “Oops”

  16. #16 by siamo on Friday, 11 June 2010 - 8:15 pm

    The BN logo should be changed to a dacing that is one that is tilted. Dacing tipu.

    The only way Malaysian can expect justice, an independent judiciary and impartial civil service is by voting out the BN in 2012. It will be 2012, as it is too risky to leave it until March 2103.

    By all its actions, the BN controlled government preparing the ground to be voted out.

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