October 5, 2012
Speaker issues gag order on PAC
Last updated on 5 October 2012 – 12:06pm
by Hemananthanani Sivanandam and Alyaa Alhadjri at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday
KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 4, 2012): Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has issued a gag order on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members, preventing them from revealing to the media any details of committee proceedings before they were presented to the House.
In a letter dated June 27, he cited Standing Order 85, reminding the committee that it is an extension of the Dewan Rakyat. “By right, the House must be informed first if there are any investigations done by a committee.Thus, if details or statements were made available to other parties, it is against the rights and privileges of the House,” he said.
According to the order, the evidence taken before any Select Committee and any documents presented to the committee must not be published by anyone before the committee has presented its report to the House.
It is believed that the letter, made available to the media today, was issued as the committee members, in the past, have revealed details of PAC’s probe into several controversial issues.
Pandikar Amin said to ensure that the integrity, rights and privileges of the House are maintained, it is best that PAC members do not disclose evidence or discussion of the matters investigated or presented to the committee to the media before a report is tabled in Parliament.
He hoped the PAC would take proactive measures to protect and enforce the order. “If it is not controlled or warned, preventive action will be taken against anyone who disobeys or fails to comply with the requirements of this standing order.This is to ensure that any evidence or statement given is protected from any manipulation or exploitation due to the interests of certain parties,” said Pandikar Amin.
“As PAC members, we have to respect the Speaker’s advice. The problem is, the rakyat sees PAC in a different manner.Under today’s environment, it is very difficult to prevent the media from reporting. PAC will lose its stature if the instruction or advice is followed strictly,” said Azmi in a text message to theSun.
He added that as the Chairman, it is incumbent on him to avoid making conclusions before the final decisions are made, thus his media statements “are always guarded”.
“In some countries, PAC inquiry is open to the public … So, if we are to move forward, we should be ready to make changes,” said Azmi.
“I believe it is only through sincere transparency that we can mitigate and avoid repeated mistakes reported by the auditor-general annually.But of course, in the end, it is up to the rakyat and the Parliament to decide.