KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak was given an extension of time until Tuesday (March 15) to explain to the Dewan Rakyat, about his remarks on 1MDB during last week’s debate, said to have misled the House.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun said he had received a letter from Najib requesting a time extension to provide a written explanation on the matter.
“I have written to both Yang Berhormat (Pekan MP and the Finance Minister) to ask for clarification by today. Yesterday, after I chaired the sitting, I received a letter from Najib asking for a time extension until Wednesday to explain.
“I allowed the application until Tuesday morning next week, so there is no issue of the Yang Berhormat Pekan disobeying my order,” he said.
Azhar clarified the matter when Tony Pua (PH-Damansara) raised Standing Orders 43 and 44 (2) on the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s decision to seek clarification from Najib following Pua’s motion that Najib be referred to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee under Standing Order 36 (12) of the Dewan Rakyat over the remarks.
Pua had submitted the motion following Najib’s speech in the Dewan Rakyat on March 2, said to contain statements that allegedly misled the House on the 1MDB debt issue and could be construed as insulting to the House of Representatives.
Standing Order 43 states that Tuan Yamg Dipertua in the House or the Chairman in Committee shall be responsible for the observance of the rules of order in the House and Committee respectively, and his decision on any point of order shall not be open to appeal and shall not be reviewed by the House except upon a substantive motion moved for that purpose.
Standing Order 44 (2) stipulates that the Chair shall order any member whose conduct is disorderly or whose acts are in contempt of the House or who continues to disregard the authority of the Chair to withdraw from the House for a period not exceeding ten days and such member shall immediately withdraw from the House. If the meeting adjourns before the end of such period, the remainder of the period shall be brought to the next meeting, unless Parliament is earlier dissolved, if the Chair does not determine the period for the member to withdraw, such period shall be deemed to be two days inclusive of the day of the incident.
According to Azhar, the practice of seeking clarification in writing from MPs was his practice from the first day as Speaker in considering a motion or debate on whether to allow or reject the motion, and the practice is not found in the Standing Order.
“Before I allowed a motion, the motion usually involved matters on facts or debate on the facts. The motion that Yang Berhormat Damansara gave me involved four facts raised on whether the government used government money to pay off 1MDB’s principal debt.
“That is the reason I seek clarification on the matter before I can decide whether to allow or reject the motion,” he explained.
RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) also questioned Najib’s action of giving an explanation to reporters outside the Dewan Rakyat, which Azhar viewed as beyond his control as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker. -BERNAMA