MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abd Aziz became the centre of attention in Parliament yesterday as Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo’s was slapped with a two-day suspension for criticising the Minister.
Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had ruled that Nazri had no intention to mislead the House when giving his reply on ex-gratia payments to the former Lord President and Supreme Court judges during the judiciary crisis in 1988.
“The minister did not know that the statement he gave was inaccurate and had no intention to mislead the House. Therefore it is not necessary for the minister to be referred to the committee of privileges,” said Dr Wan Junaidi at 11.30am.
Nazri had told the House on Nov 6 that former Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas and five other Supreme Court judges were not sacked but opted to retire early. A few days later, Nazri told reporters that he had made a mistake and that three of them were indeed sacked but had been paid pension on compassionate grounds.
This prompted Karpal Singh (DAP - Gelugor) to ask for a ruling to refer Nazri to the Committee of Privileges under Standing Order 36(12) for misleading the House.
After Dr Wan Junaidi delivered his decision, Salahuddin Ayub (PAS -Kubang Kerian) said Nazri should apologise in the House for not knowing his facts which had affected the integrity of the House.
Dr Wan Junaidi told Salahuddin: “I do not need to ask the minister to apologise. My decision is based on the Standing Order. I do not want the Parliament to be a mockery.”
It was at this juncture that Karpal Singh told the Deputy Speaker that his decision was indeed a mockery of the House.
Karpal Singh, amidst shouts of “tarik balik” from backbenchers, told Dr Wan Junaidi “jangan main-main (don’t play the fool) and the minister should apologise.
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP - Puchong), who stood up to support his father, ended up being suspended after he accused the Deputy Speaker of defending and being biased.
At the Parliament lobby later, Gobind Singh said: “If Nazri is prepared to apologise outside the Dewan, why can’t he do so inside the House?”
In the lobby, Nazri said there was no reason for him to apologise.
“The Deputy Speaker has cleared me that I had not deliberately made that statement. Since there is no case to refer me to the Rights and Privileges Committee, there is no reason for me to defend myself,” he said.
“The issue from the beginning was never over an apology but about making the wrong statement, which I had admitted and cleared,” he said when asked why he initially apologised. ”The issue of apology does not arise. This was created by Karpal Singh,” he said.