Kit Siang: MPs must challenge Speaker’s refusal to allow Petronas asset seizure debate

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Azhar’s decision to reject motion undermines 4 fundamental rights.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun’s decision to reject motions to debate the seizure of Petronas’ assets abroad should not have happened as it undermines four fundamental rights, DAP MP Lim Kit Siang said today.

The Iskandar Puteri MP urged Azhar to review his rejection, failing which he suggested Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah initiate a review of the Speaker’s decision using Parliament’s Standing Orders.

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“Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun’s sub judice ruling disallowing a debate on the seizure of Petronas assets by purported heirs of the Sulu sultanate must be challenged as it undermines four fundamental rights — freedom of expression, Sabah sovereignty, Parliament’s role as the highest political chamber in the land and integrity of public officials,” Lim said in a statement.

He alleged that Azhar’s refusal recalls the time when sub judice was improperly cited to block MPs from close scrutiny of the 1MDB financial scandal.

Lim wants both Azhar as the Speaker and Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, as the minister in charge of law and parliamentary affairs, to give an assurance that time will be allocated for a review of the motion to debate the Petronas asset seizure in the Dewan Rakyat, either this Thursday or next Monday.

Oppostion lawmakers kicked up a ruckus in protest of Azhar’s rejection of the issue yesterday.

The commotion led to the ejection of the Kota Belud MP from inside the Dewan Rakyat and Azhar to leave his seat.

According to lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla, it is wrong for Azhar to cite sub judice as the reason for rejecting a motion to debate the seizure of Petronas assets.

Haniff said the rule is not applicable in Malaysia as the arbitration proceedings were conducted in other jurisdictions, namely the supreme court in Madrid, Spain, and subsequently by a French arbitration court.

“Most importantly, even if we want to apply the sub judice rules, it cannot be applied to our clients (parties) who are having discussions among themselves (in the Dewan Rakyat).

“The case involves the government of Malaysia, which represents over 32 million rakyat and they have a right to discuss among themselves via the elected representatives in the Dewan Rakyat,” Haniff said.

He then cited similar incidents where the then Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia blocked several attempts from lawmakers to have the Lower House of Parliament debate the 1MDB scandal.

“Now the speaker wants to make the same mistake again. I am worried that this development will be seen by the world as a laughing stock as the people’s right to ask about issues related to sovereignty are denied,” he said.

Therefore, Haniff said, the speaker should change his mind and allow the lawmakers to debate the seizure of Petronas assets as soon as possible.

“This can be done by an appeal brought (by Isnaraissah) according to Clause 43 of the parliamentary Standing Order,” he said.

Meanwhile, Azhar expressed his sadness over the conduct of some parliamentarians who did not respect the Serjeant-at-Arms (bentara) during the chaos over the ejection of Isnaraissah yesterday.

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The bentara, he said, stood there for 40 minutes to escort Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis out of the Dewan Rakyat, but was completely ignored.

“I was very sad yesterday to see our young Parliament workers, the bentara, standing there for 40 minutes and not being respected at all.

“If you don’t respect me, that’s okay. I’m the speaker, I can take it. This is my life and my responsibility.

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“But respect our young staff. The bentara were doing their duty.”

Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Pakatan Harapan-Kuala Selangor) then interjected and said: “Not for one moment were our actions directed towards the bentara. We only asked that the deputy speaker take more appropriate action.”

Azhar said it was the deputy speaker’s decision to eject Isnaraissah and order the bentara to escort her out.

Isnaraissah was ejected from the Dewan Rakyat yesterday and slapped with a two-day suspension order after she questioned why her motion to debate the claims by the purported heirs of the Sulu Sultanate was rejected three times, despite it being a matter of national sovereignty.


Earlier report:

Jul 18, Dewan Rakyat: Ejection order retracted following shouting match over Sulu Sultanate claim (Updated)