During the final winding-up of the 2017 Budget debate yesterday, I asked the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani whether and how the three former Cabinet Ministers, MP for Pagoh and former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, MP for Semporna and former Rural and Regional Development Minister, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and the MP for Tambun and former Second Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdul Husni Hanadzlah had violated Cabinet secrecy when they took part in the debate in Parliament on the budget.
Johari was unable to give a cogent and intelligible answer.
I in fact asked Johari why he dared not repeat inside Parliament what he had earlier said outside the Parliament chamber, that it was not wrong for MPs and former Cabinet Ministers like Husni to ask questions about 1MDB in Parliament.
There was no answer from Johari.
Although the Second Finance Minister, the Minister tasked with the final reply on the 2017 Budget speech, does not know that the three former Cabinet Ministers had violated Cabinet secrecy, the Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia seemed to know more about Cabinet secrets about the 1MDB than Johari with his media conference statement on Thursday, 27th October that the three former Cabinet Ministers might have broken their oaths of secrecy when debating the 2017 Budget.
This has shocked many lawyers and law professors, as well as the former longest-serving Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, who was AG for 13 years from 1980-1993, who expressed surprise and questioned how the Dewan Rakyat Speaker knew that three former ministers had revealed government secrets when they raised the 1MDB issue during budget debate.
Abu Talib wondered how Pandikar, as head of the legislature, knew that the Cabinet had discussed the 1MDB issue. Also, how did he know what was discussed was classified information.
Abu Talib asked whether somebody had told the Speaker about it, and if so, Speaker should have lodged a police report against that very person who told him.
However, this most important question is whether Pandikar had committed a crime under section 124(B) of Penal Code of an activity “detrimental to parliamentary democracy” when he egged on police investigations of three former Cabinet Ministers for their speeches on 1MDB in Parliament – especially as the police seemed to be using Section 124(B) against all and sundry, including university students and peaceful critics of the government-of-the-day!
As the longest-serving MP in the country – I have just calculated and found that Tun Mahathir had been a Member of Parliament for 34 years compared to my 43 years as MP – Parliament and MPs are facing the gravest attack on parliamentary privileges and immunities by the Executive in the nearly six decades of the nation’s history.
In such a constitutional crisis on the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, where Parliament and MP’s parliamentary privileges are facing the worst encroachments by the Executive, with the police summoning and investigating MPs like the three former Cabinet Ministers for what they say in Parliament about 1MDB, the Speaker should be in the forefront defending Parliament and protecting parliamentary privileges and immunities of MPs.
But we do not see this happening, as Pandikar seems to be the cause of police reports being lodged against the three former Cabinet Ministers resulting in their being summoned by the police for interrogation on their speeches in Parliament.
The Police action is completely unacceptable and intolerable, as the three former Cabinet Ministers did not even touch on the four entrenched sensitive issues which entail automatic sedition offences and are the only exceptions to parliamentary privileges and immunities enjoyed by MPs with regard to freedom of speech in Parliament.
In suggesting that the three former Cabinet Ministers might have broken their oath of secrecy, Pandikar might have violated Section 124(B) of Penal Code in being engaged in an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy.
A police report had been lodged by former Batu Kawan UMNO vice chairman Khairrudin Abu Hassan against Pandikar under Section 124(B) of the Penal Code.
Why have the Police acted instantly on the police reports against the three former Cabinet Ministers but completely inactive and inert on Khairuddin’s police report against the Speaker for his media conference statement outside the Parliamentary Chambers?
Malaysia has recently achieved many firsts in the world, but these “firsts” are not something for Malaysians to be proud of.
Firstly, Malaysia has shot into the stratrosphere and is regarded worldwide as a “global kleptocracy”, which was why I said in Parliament that Malaysia is now known as a government of PPP – Pencuri, Perompak dan Penyamun, without any protest or objection from the Barisan Nasional side, whether Ministers or backbenchers.
It is an eternal shame for the present 13th Parliament that there is no sense of shame or outrage at the infamy and ignominy of the epithet of a “global kleptocracy”. It is most shocking that MPs could support or even abstain in the voting of the 2017 budget of a “global kleptocracy”!
Secondly, we are supposed to set a world record with the RM144 billion worth of deals signed by the Prime Minister in his recent visit to China.
DAP was recently accused of amazing and even superhuman powers of “infiltrating” Malay parties, planting “proxies” to do DAP’s bidding. I do not know whether DAP will be accused of masterminding the RM144 billion deal signed by the Prime Minister in his visit to China, which would mean that DAP”s “infiltration” policies and activities which DAP is accused of have reached very high political levels in government!
Thirdly, what takes the cake however must be the parliamentary episode yesterday where the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister sneaked into Parliament House during the final winding-up by the Second Finance Minister. Najib should be in Parliament as the Finance Minister to do the final winding up, but instead, he sneaked into Parliament House, but never entered the Parliament Chambers. Even worse, he did not enter Parliament Chambers for the voting on the second reading of the 2017 Budget.
I do not think what Najib did had been done by any Prime Minister or Finance Minister in other parts of the world. Was he afraid of entering the Parliamentary Chambers and being booed as Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister of a “global kleptocracy”?
But all these shade into insignificance when the Speaker is not in the forefront to defend Parliament and the parliamentary privileges and immunities of MPs when facing encroachments by the Executive. The Speaker must not be seen to have crossed the line to the side of the Executive, in “inciting” police reports to be lodged against the three former Ministers for their speeches in Parliament, and egging on the police with its encroachment on parliamentary privileges and immunities.
Today’s gathering of MPs and former MPs (including former Ministers) is to send out a clear and unmistakable message firstly, to the Inspector-General of Police to “hands off” MPs (including the three former Cabinet Ministers) for their speeches on 1MDB as the police should not undermine the important constitutional doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary; and secondly to remind the Speaker of his role to be in the forefront to defend Parliament and the parliamentary privileges and immunities in the face of Executive encroachments, and not to cross over to the side of the Executive.
(Speech at the Meeting of MPs and former MPs (including former Ministers) to protect Parliament and parliamentary privileges at Bilik Taklimat, Parliament on Tuesday, 8th November 2016 at 11 am)