I am still feeling dizzy and drowsy from sleep deprivation. You see, I was up all night long to read and digest the “Penyata Jawatankuasa Hak dan Kebebasan Parlimen Malaysia”, a verbatim report of the proceedings of the Parliament Rights and Privileges Committee (PRPC). All 5 of them, plus the committee’s recommendation since I intended to particiate in today’s debate the motion to suspend Anwar, Azmin, Sivarasa and Karpal. I didnt know it was going to be so laborious considering they contained a lot of dialogues between members of the committee which sometimes became rather heated!
What happened in Parliament today was really shameful and idiotic. I mean, come on, MPs bringing in placards to protest something that I believe most didnt even know what they were talking about? How much low can you go? What’s after this? Fistfights?
Do the opposition MPs know that it does not take much bravery to bring illegal placards into the House? I suppose even cowards can easily do that too!
So what have I found in the reports while reading them in the wee hours of the morning? Plenty actually. But instead of writing it in the normal way and bore you to death, let me put my thoughts in FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format so that they are concise and straight to the points. You may disagree of course with my assesment. Here goes...
(1) Why must Anwar be referred to Parliament Rights and Privileges Committee (PRPC)?
He was referred to PRPC because the government felt that he was intentionally misleading the House when he said “1999 Satu Israel. 2009 APCO menasihati Perdana Menteri Dato Sri Mohd Najib, 1Malaysia” in his speech in parliament because the statement alleged that 1Malaysia concept was mooted by APCO.
(2) Isn’t possible he was not doing it intentionally?”
No because he was given a chance to clarify and proof in Parliament within one week (refer to hansard 30 March 2010). If he felt that was not what he meant and offered his apology, the issue could have been resolved then and there. Most probably House would accept his explanantion.
(3) Did he provide proofs of his allegation when he was given the chance to clarify on 30 March 2010?
No. Instead of providing proofs that 1Malaysia concept was mooted by APCO, he went on and on talking about other issues which were not relevant to the allegation. He even mistakenly equated APCO Worldwide (international communication consultant firm) with APCO (American Protocol Communication Outfit), a walkie talkie communication system which was used by Polis DiRaja Malaysia and claimed that Israelis were inflitrating Bukit Aman!
(4) Did he apologize?
No. If he did, the issue would have been resolved and was no longer neccesary to be referred to PRPC.
(5) Why so sensitive about Israel anyway? So what if Anwar said that!
I think we have to put it into right persepective. Israel is one issue which is considered highly sensitive in Malaysia. What more when someone try to insinuate that 1Malaysia concept, which is one the main cornerstones of Dato Sri Najib’s policy, was mooted by an alleged Israeli connected communication consultant company in the name of APCO.
If we look at our passports, the only country that Malaysian paspport cannot be used is Israel. Such is the sensitivity of the nation on Israel. It is deeply engrained in our national psyche.
But allow me to share another point. Back in 22 April 2010, when parliament was debating whether to refer Anwar to PRPC, I mentioned in my speech that while 1Malaysia was a noble concept of uniting the people irrespective of their religion, race and creed, 1Israel on the other hand was an election coalition of 3 parties not unlike Pakatan Rakyat. I mentioned that one of the three parties in the coalition was a religious based party called Meimad, much like PAS’ which based its struggle on religion. The moment I said that, the House erupted into pandomenium! PAS’ MPs were on their feet and angrily shouting at me to retract my statement. (Please go tohttp://www.parlimen.gov.my/files/hindex/pdf/DR-22042010i.pdf and scroll down to page 40 to 46)
I had to retract my statement eventhough what I meant was only that both PAS and Israel’s Meimad party were political partied based on religious struggle. But you could see how agitated and sensitive PAS MPs became when it came to Israel issue.
(6) So what is PRPC anyway?
PRPC is a select commitee of Parliament. The members are MPs and their numbers are based on the nearest ratio of parties MPs in the House. It is accorded all the power, rights and privileges similar to the House itself. So the PRPC has 4 BN and 2 PR members. Chairman is Speaker of the House.
(7) Is it true that Anwar was denied the counsel of his lawyer during the proceedings of PRPC?
Not true. Anwar was initially allowed by PRPC to bring his lawyer in a capacity of an advisor (lawyer can advice Anwar but Anwar must do his own submissions to the committee). But YB Karpal Singh insisted that the lawyer’s presence must have a status of “full representation”, which includes allowing the lawyer to make submissions on behalf of Anwar, do cross examination of witnesses and call witnesses, effectively turning the meeting into court proceedings.
Chairman informed YB Karpal that PRPC was not a court and no provisions in the standing orders or convention of parliamentary proceedings which allowed this to be done. This is because Parliament is supreme. MPs are supposed to be learned individuals and capable of judging their own peers. Furthermore, if judges acknowledge that they have no say or jurisdiction as to how parliament conducts itself, let alone lawyers.
When YB Karpal persisted with his interpretation of the standing order 83(7A) despite being told otherwise by Chairman, the Chairman then decided to allow committee members to decide by way of voting, that by allowing lawyer to be present, it also meant the lawyer had full representation status. The result was 4-2 infavour of not allowing the lawyer to be present based on YB Karpal’s interpretation. Thus, the voting result effectively nullified earlier decision to allow the lawyer in.
(8) Opposition insisted that there was a conspiracy denying Anwar of knowledge of the actual charge.
No conspiracy! Anwar knew the preferred charge against him as early as 22 April 2010 when Dato Seri Nazri brought the motion to Parliament.
(9) Why did not Chairman of PRPC allow other opposition MPs led by YB Gobind Sing Deo to be present and observe the proceedings?
The standing order has no provision for that. Furthermore, with that many people in the hearing room, if any information leaks out before the committee made their final recommendations, it would be difficult to find who the culprit is. This is important because standing order 85 clearly states that the evidence taken before any select committee and any documents presented to such committee shall not not be published by anyone before the committee has presented its report to the House. Having 222 MPs in the room will make it impossible to enforce. So why risk it!
In the case of several Pemuda UMNO members who were referred to the PRPC for obstructing YB Karpal, the committee denied the right of YB Dato Razali Ibrahim (even though he is member of PRPC) and YB Khairy Jamaluddin to attend the proceedings. This is a proof that the committee is fair.
Chairman also pointed out that even the hearing room was too small to cater for hundreds of MPs. Thus Chairman then disallowed the MPs from observing the proceedings based on his worries of breaching of standing order 85. It is also important to point out that disallowing the presence of the MPs did not in any way negatively affect Anwar since the proceedings would be reported verbatim.
(10) Is it true witnesses were never called?
Not true. Infact in the third meeting, APCO officer was waiting for his turn to address the PRPC. He flew in from Brussels to Kuala Lumpur just to testify. The same thing goes to Dato Seri Nazri who was waiting in the holding room. And also Anwar himself. But because of repeated stalling tactics by YB Karpal in particular, every attempt of calling witnesses including Anwar were met with new queries and interpretation of sanding orders and Chairman’s decisions. The meeting turned out to be heated verbal exchanges between Chariman and YB Karpal which led to another abrupt adjournment. Once again, the meeting couldnt proceed because of YB Karpal’s insistence that his interpretations were right.
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