A furious Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim roasted Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun in Parliament today as the Opposition leader sought and failed to debate the latest financial scandal involving some of Malaysia’s political elite exposed in the Pandora Papers.
The row began when Azhar told the Port Dickson MP that he should have used Standing Order 43 instead of 90(1) and 90(2) to seek a review when his first bid to debate the subject was rejected last week.
“The Pandora Papers is not about hiding money or outflow of billions in funds from our country to offshore havens. It is an exposé on the holding of shares in offshore companies. Those are two different matters YB,” Azhar told Anwar.
“In fact, I see that even the holding of shares, according to statements from the outside, it’s only a little bit and not billions. There are some which are only £5 from what I read, if I am not mistaken. There was one where the company held assets worth 2.5 million, either in US dollars or pound sterlings,” he added.
Anwar, looking furious, shot back and defended his use of the particular provision in the Standing Orders, saying it was for Azhar to correct his initial decision on his motion.
He then asked Azhar: “But why does the Speaker want to become a lawyer for the corrupt groups?”
The Opposition lawmaker said that he had documents on the matter that he wished to ask in Parliament. One of them, Anwar said, was how a minister could own offshore shares, which he alleged to be a source of wealth from Malaysia.
“I have a document that says a minister has shareholdings there. Where did the money come from if there is no illicit outflow?
“My sources say that there are more. I am not seeking punishment as some are legitimate, but many cases involve ministers who have no reason to keep millions overseas.
“How can the rich, ministers, and leaders of this country acquire that much money overseas? Why are we silent when the whole country already knows this?” Anwar said.
He also said that the Pandora Papers exposé should be debated in Parliament even if the shares were worth only £5 as Azhar said.
“I don’t understand why the Speaker chooses to become an advocate for these people!” he added.
However, Azhar remained calm and told Anwar that he was merely “setting the facts straight” on the Pandora Papers. He also remained firm on his decision to reject Anwar’s debate application.