July 24, 2017
Malaysian Parliament rejects Questions on 1MDB
by Zikri Kamarulzaman
Efforts to get the government to answer parliamentary queries related to 1MDB were derailed today when the Dewan Rakyat rejected more than 30 questions on the matter.
The questions ranged from whether the government would table a White Paper on foreign intervention in the 1MDB case, to the government’s stance on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) 1MDB-linked lawsuits.
The Dewan Rakyat also rejected a question on whether the government would accept the return of money and assets, including jewellery, seized by the DOJ.The mood in the House was tense when opposition MPs stood en masse to voice out their frustrations.
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) said Parliament cannot simply reject all questions on the matter, including his request for a status update on investigations into 1MDB.
“You can’t cover up (the 1MDB scandal) by stopping us from asking questions!” Gobind said.
Fauzi Abdul Rahman (PKR-Indera Mahkota) asked why his question on the government’s efforts to correct negative perceptions brought on by the DOJ suits was deemed to be offensive.”This question was deemed menyakitkan hati (hurtful to feelings). Whose feelings does it hurt?” Fauzi asked.
His question was rejected under Standing Order 23(1)(c) which states that “a question shall not contain any argument, interference, opinion, imputation, epithet or misleading, ironical or offensive expression nor shall a question be frivolous or be asked seeking information on trivial matters”.
BN lawmakers responded by harping on Lim Guan Eng’s (DAP-Bagan) bungalow scandal. Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan, photo) said his question about the bungalow had been rejected because it was sub judice.
“But I made no noise because I accept that the Speaker’s decision is final,” Bung Mokhtar said.
Deputy Speaker Ismail Mohamad Said told all lawmakers who were dissatisfied that their questions were rejected to file a motion to seek a review.
However, such a move has thus far proven to be unfruitful, with previous efforts to seek a review not making it to the House floor. Previous Dewan Rakyat meetings had seen certain questions related to 1MDB rejected, but not wholesale as was the case at today’s session.
1MDB is the subject of multiple overseas investigations.
The DOJ, for example, is seeking to seize more than US$1.7 billion in assets it claims were purchased using funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.
At a press conference in the Parliament media room later, Pakatan Harapan MPs revealed that questions related to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International were also among those rejected.
The following are some of the rejected questions and the reasons for which they were rejected.
Ko Chung Sen (DAP-Ipoh) asks the Prime Minister:
Was he was informed beforehand on the civil forfeiture suits filed by the US DOJ to seize assets linked to 1MDB; and Did he make an official complaint to US President Donald Trump or the US Ambassador to Malaysia if the US is considered to have interfered in the affairs of this country and what was their response.
Reason for rejection
Standing Order 23(1)(g): A question shall not be so drafted as to be likely to prejudice a case under trial, or be asked to any matter that is sub judice.
Gooi Hsiao Leung (PKR-Alor Setar) asks the Prime Minister to state specific details on how our country has cooperated with the US and other international authorities that are investigating misappropriation and laundering of 1MDB funds, as he personally said the country would do so during his trip to Germany on Sept 27, 2016.
Reasons for rejection
Standing Order 23(1)(c): A question shall not contain any argument, interference, opinion, imputation, epithet or misleading, ironical or offensive expression nor shall a question be frivolous or be asked seeking information on trivial matters;and
Standing Order 23(1)(f): A question shall not seek information about any matter which is of its nature secret.
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) asks the Prime Minister to state the status of investigations into 1MDB and SRC and what action will be taken.
Reason for rejection
Standing Order 23(1)(h): A question shall not be asked for the purpose of obtaining an expression of opinion, the solution of an abstract legal case or the answer to a hypothetical proposition.