Monday, May 23, 2022

PAC chief rapped for ‘misleading public’ on speaker’s power to make Azam inquiry public

Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin says Wong Kah Woh 'added salt and pepper' to the standing orders on the matter.

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Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Wong Kah Woh has come under fire for his recent statement that the Dewan Rakyat speaker has the power to make public an inquiry into Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Azam Baki’s ownership of company shares.

Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin, who accused Wong of misleading the public on the issue, said the Ipoh Timur MP had referred to Standing Order 90(2) in making his statement earlier today.

“The speaker is not right,” Wong had reportedly said of Azhar Harun’s position that the standing orders do not allow for open proceedings.

“He has the power to initiate the suspension of the standing orders by referring the same to the House for a decision pursuant to Standing Order 90(2).”

But Mongin said the standing order in question does not give the speaker any discretion to suspend the standing orders relating to the parliamentary select committee (PSC), nor does it give the speaker the right to initiate their suspension.

“A member of the House must initiate the question and only then may the speaker put it to the House for a vote,” he said in a statement.

“In short, 90(2) merely allows any MP to propose that a rule be suspended, and certainly not for the speaker to make such a proposal. It says the speaker can allow the question be put without notice to a vote in the House. That is the extent of Standing Order 90(2). No more, no less.

“But Wong has added salt and pepper, or lacks the comprehension to interpret them properly.”

Azhar yesterday confirmed to MalaysiaNow that members of the PSC are prohibited from divulging the details of any proceedings.

Azhar also said that any breach of the standing orders would result in action against PSC members.

While the PSC’s reports can be published, he said, this can only be done after it is presented to the Dewan Rakyat.

“All committees, whether standing committees or special select committees, must follow the standing orders. Currently, the standing orders do not provide for public hearings or the making public of proceedings,” he said.

Azam is expected to be questioned on Jan 19 by the PSC on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department, a committee comprising MPs from Pakatan Harapan, Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional as well as GPS and Warisan.

He is under investigation over claims of conflict of interest in the purchase of company shares following a series of blog articles by an activist linked to local NGO C4 Center.

He has since issued a demand letter to the writer of the articles, Lalitha Kunaratnam, with the MACC lodging a police report against her describing her claims as false and unsubstantiated by evidence.

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