Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun has rejected an emergency motion to urgently debate the Pandora Papers exposé.
However, he said the matter should instead be looked into by a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), or even a Royal Commission of Inquiry.
Responding to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Azhar said that the Pandora Papers were indeed an important matter or public interest.
However, he said it did not fulfill the criteria for urgent debate.
Further, he said an emergency motion would only give a small amount of time for the matter to be discussed.
“This matter can be raised at any time or through different procedures such as Minister Question Time, or oral questions.
“In fact, for the open investigation that the honourable member (Anwar) suggested, I suggest that you propose an investigation via RCI,” he added.
The speaker also said the matter should be brought to the PSC (Economy).
“It is more appropriate to bring this to the PSC (Economy) to be looked into at depth with more time,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today.
Azhar further cited standing orders which disallowed debate based on news reports, as being a barrier to an emergency motion on the Pandora Papers.
Anwar (Pakatan Harapan-Port Dickson) agreed that the Pandora Papers should be brought to the PSC (Economy).
However, he insisted that it was an urgent matter that should also be debated on the House floor.
He lamented that if so much money is hidden in tax havens and the government does nothing, it would be an embarrassment to MPs, while also calling for bipartisan efforts to address the issue.
He said he had first brought up the matter of Malaysians stashing money abroad back in 2012, and the government had not acted on it.
“At least we want the prime minister to say ‘yes, an RCI will be established’, ‘yes, an open and transparent investigation will be done,'” Anwar argued.
He said that he was unable to accept Azhar’s refusal on a technical ground when so much funds, involving influential names, had gone out of the country.
Azhar refused to budge, and Anwar said he would be writing a motion to review the speaker’s decision.