The cat seems to be out of the bag as to why the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Feb. 24 and 25 were summarily postponed in the last minute although there were three times the requisite PAC quorum of three available for the two scheduled PAC meetings last month, with the cock-and-bull story about some PAC members out of the country?
The clue is to be found in the Malay Mail Online scoop today that the Auditor-General’s final 1MDB audit report has been classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, and that PAC members will not be allowed to take home the 300-page report on the controversial state investment fund when it is tabled at the PAC tomorrow.
Was the last-minute postponement of the PAC meeting on Feb. 24 and 25 to give Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s henchmen in the Executive, in particular the new Attorney-General, time to think of ways to suppress the Auditor-General’s final audit report on the 1MDB?
This is downright ridiculous and a clear and gross violation of parliamentary powers and jurisdiction by the Executive branch of government and shows the insufferably arrogant attitude by some members of the Executive who think that they are the only patriots in the country, although they are responsible for the international opprobrium and odium suffered by the country on the world stage as a nation which is increasingly corrupt, repressive and authoritarian!
It is no business of any member of the Executive, whether Attorney-General or Prime Minister to decide that PAC members are not trustworthy and reliable enough to be allowed to take home the 300-page Auditor-General’s final audit report on the 1MDB, for once the Auditor-General has presented the final audit report on the 1MDB, the report falls under the jurisdiction of Parliament and neither the Auditor-General nor any member of the Executive (whether Attorney-General or Prime Minister) can or should interfere to decide that the Report should not leave the four walls of Parliament House.
Is the Auditor-General’s final audit report on 1MDB so explosive, inflammable or so subversive that if it leaves the four walls of Parliament, it could create a national security situation?
Or is the Auditor-General’s final audit report on 1MDB so damnably damaging that the Najib governments wants it to be kept under lock-and-key, and not made available to the public?
This is most ridiculous, as if the Najib government has not made enough of a fool of itself and the country in the eyes of the world as a result of Najib’s sorry and protracted twin mega scandals for the past year.
Only today, Malaysians suffered the mortifying experience of being lectured by the Indonesian daily, the Jakarta Post, on the twin subjects of democracy and corruption – first time (at the rate things are going, not the last time) Indonesia teaching Malaysia what are the best practices in democracy and fighting corruption!
What a responsible, independent and patriotic PAC should do in the present circumstances is to immediately present both the Auditor-General’s interim and final audit report on 1MDB to Parliament on its first working sitting on Tuesday, 8th March 2016 with the explanatory statement that the PAC report on the 1MDB, taking into account the Auditor-General’s interim and final reports, would be tabled in Parliament by 31st March 2016 (the end of the fourth week of the March/April Parliamentary meeting) so as to allow a full debate by Parliament on the PAC report on the last two days of the fifth week of Parliament on 6th and 7th April.
Dare the PAC at its meeting tomorrow deplore and censure Executive interference with Parliament, which is inimical to the doctrine of the separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary – one of the most important checks-and-balances to ensure the success and maturing of functioning and meaningful parliamentary democracy?
Parliament has its own powers to protect the confidentiality of parliamentary papers, as breach of parliamentary privilege could entail not only fines but periods of imprisonment as well – and the OSA should cease to apply and there should an end to any Executive interference with Parliamentary independence with regard to any documents presented in Parliament.
Parliament must be jealous to protect its own powers, dignity and jurisdiction and not to allow the Executive to intrude or interfere whether through the use of OSA or other devices.
Not much is to be expected of a “cari makan” Chairman of PAC, but will the Parliament Speaker protect the dignity, privileges and powers of Parliament from Executive interference?