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Dewan Rakyat rejects motion to debate Pandora Papers

Speaker Azhar Harun says it is an important matter but does not need to be expedited at the expense of other issues in the order paper.

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Speaker Azhar Harun in the Dewan Rakyat today. Photo: Bernama
Speaker Azhar Harun in the Dewan Rakyat today. Photo: Bernama

The Dewan Rakyat today rejected a motion to debate the disclosure of the so-called Pandora Papers which allegedly involve the confidential financial records of several of the country’s leaders and prominent figures.

The motion brought by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was rejected by speaker Azhar Harun on grounds that it was not an urgent matter to the extent of having to set aside other matters listed in the Dewan Rakyat Order Paper.

Azhar proposed that matters related to the Pandora Papers be referred instead to the relevant special select committee for further scrutiny.

“I agree with Yang Berhormat MP (Anwar) that the Pandora Papers is a specific matter, of public interest and an important issue that should be investigated. However, I find it needs not be expedited.

“We have nine special select committees including on economy which involves the finance ministry, and I think it is more appropriate for the matters to be brought to the attention of the committee for further scrutiny. I therefore reject the motion,” he said.

Anwar, in his motion filed on Oct 4, had called for the Pandora Papers to be debated in the Dewan Rakyat, claiming that it revealed illegal financial transactions and assets held offshore by several Malaysian politicians and businessmen.

Azhar said there were some restrictions in the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders on discussions of the issue as the Pandora Papers were the findings of investigative news reports based on leaks of information from several agencies.

“Under Standing Order 23 (1)(i), a question shall not be asked as to whether statements in the press or of private individuals or financial bodies are accurate.

“And if read together with Standing Order 18 (7), the speaker can refuse to allow any motion contravening any of the provisions of the Standing Orders of the House.

“So I think the proposal (to refer the matter to a special select committee) is more effective than having to set aside other matters in the Order Paper to discuss it,” he said.