A DAP MP was told to take a 20-minute break outside of the House after he continued heckling Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz during his winding-up speech in Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 24).
RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) interrupted Zafrul during his speech and asked why Datuk Seri Najib Razak (BN-Pekan) was not blacklisted by the government from travelling overseas over alleged unpaid taxes amounting to RM1.74bil owed to the Inland Revenue Board.
“Why was Pekan given special treatment? If we don’t pay our income taxes, we would be blacklisted at the airport,” said Rayer.
Zafrul then said “Jelutong, you know the answer. It was a court decision”.
“This is not the court’s decision, Yang Berhormat. If one does not pay their taxes, they are automatically blacklisted. The issue on the court’s decision is a different matter, but when one does not pay their taxes, they should have been blacklisted,” Rayer added.
Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim then interrupted Rayer, highlighting that Najib’s passport was still in the court’s custody and that the IRB’s assessment could still be challenged.
This prompted Rayer to ask why Abdul Azeez was answering on behalf of the Finance Ministry and subsequently urged Tengku Zafrul to provide a response.
“I am asking this question on behalf of taxpayers. All taxpayers know that we will be blacklisted automatically if we do not pay our taxes so why is YB Pekan given special treatment?” Rayer questioned, before Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon called for order in the House by switching off the microphones.
Tengku Zafrul then attempted to offer an explanation to Rayer, maintaining that this was the court’s decision, and therefore, the IRB was unable to blacklist Najib at this moment.
To which Rayer asked the minister whether he was afraid to answer because of a possible deal struck with fellow party man and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Picking up from Rayer, Tanjung Malim’s Chang Lih Kang again repeated the question until Tengku Zafrul replied that it was a court decision.
“But I think you have misunderstood the question,” said Chang.
“We want to know why IRB has not blacklisted Najib, not whether the court has returned his passport,” said Chang, as Tengku Zafrul continued with his winding-up.
“I have the right to ask this,” Rayer insisted.
Mohd Rashid then issued a warning to Rayer to remain silent so House proceedings could resume or face temporary expulsion.
Refusing to comply, Rayer persisted with his line of questioning before Mohd Rashid ordered him to be escorted out of the Lower House for 20 minutes with the assistance of the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in his latest blog post today that Najib, despite being convicted, not only remains free but is allowed his passport to travel.
“When a person is found guilty, he is guilty until the appeals court decides he is innocent. But the appeals court has not decided he is innocent. Therefore, he is guilty, and he should serve his sentence. But he is treated like an innocent person, not paying his fine or jailed.
“As far as is known no other person has been treated this way. More than that he is now allowed to leave the country. Again, there is no such precedent anywhere,” Dr Mahathir said.
He said this was “blatant discrimination in the practice of the law” and outlined the “vastly different treatment” Najib has received in comparison with Anwar, whom Dr Mahathir had sacked and charged with corruption and sodomy in 1998 when he was prime minister and Anwar his deputy.
“While police broke Anwar’s door and arrested him, handcuffed and thrown into a police car to be detained before he was charged in court, Najib was never arrested or handcuffed or taken to a lockup in a police car.
“He goes to the court in his car and after the hearing, he went home. Yet the charges against him are more serious.
“Even when he was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years’ jail and a fine of more than RM200 million, he has not paid his fine or been jailed simply because he had appealed his case.
“With Najib remaining free, it has allowed him to undermine the high court’s decision and inevitably undermine the whole institution. And given Najib’s sphere of influence, he is able to spread this mischief among his followers who are naive and gullible,” Dr Mahathir said.
He questioned the basis for giving these privileges to Najib, adding that the rule of law is not being applied equally.
“All these may be claimed as legal but they are not in accordance with the rule of law. No other convicted person in Malaysia has been treated the way Najib is being treated.”
Dr Mahathir said this showed that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration is not adhering to the principle of equality before the law and called on the government to explain.
The Court of Appeal is to deliver its ruling on Najib’s appeal against his conviction and sentence in the SRC International case on December 8.
Najib’s lawyers had applied for a postponement to after December 13 as Najib wanted enough time to return from Singapore to visit his daughter and fulfil mandatory quarantine upon return.
The appeals court, however, has rejected this request.