Friday, November 13, 2020

Dr M asks why ‘prisoners’ can speak in Parliament but not in court

The former prime minister says court hearings can proceed according to the same measures applied for Parliament sittings.

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Dr Mahathir Mohamad today questioned why court proceedings could be postponed as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19, but “prisoners” allowed to speak in the Dewan Rakyat.

The former prime minister said court hearings could in fact proceed according to the same rules applied to Parliament sittings.

“It is very strange that court proceedings are stopped but prisoners can speak in Parliament.

“If they can speak in Parliament, surely they can also speak in court,” he said while debating the budget bill today.

Mahathir, who is Langkawi MP, did not mention specific names. However, he had earlier spoken of the “expert in ‘cash is king'”, believed to be a reference to former prime minister Najib Razak.

Najib was convicted in July of seven counts of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering related to RM42 million from former 1MDB unit SRC International.

His appeal against his 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine will be heard on Feb 15 next year.

He also faces multiple other charges in relation to 1MDB, but the court hearings have been postponed in light of the conditional movement control order imposed across most of the country to check the spread of Covid-19.

Mahathir said today that the delay would continue unless the court put in place measures to control the situation.

“Reduce the number of observers and reporters, and observe physical distancing of one meter for those who need to be present.

“If we wait for Covid-19 (to end), it will take years,” he added.

Najib, the Pekan MP, had spoken on the budget bill on Tuesday.

His speech drew the ire of Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, who walked out of the Dewan Rakyat in protest, saying in a Twitter post that Najib spoke “as if nothing had happened”.

Several PKR leaders later criticised her as “stupid” and “dumb” for walking out.

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