Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM and LOSHANA K. SHAGAR
LAWMAKERS can now bring up issues relating to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in the Dewan Rakyat although the criminal case involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak remains an off topic.
This comes after Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof lifted the ban previously imposed by his predecessor.
The former Court of Appeal judge said the ban on discussing the RM2.6bil allegedly transferred into Najib’s account as well as the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) civil suit against Red Granite Pictures was now lifted.
He said after scrutinising several international parliamentary practices, he had come to the conclusion that the interest of those involved in the civil cases relating to 1MDB would not be jeopardised.
“My ruling now is also made on the principle that the freedom of speech for lawmakers to voice their opinions in Parliament should be respected.
“In this matter, the principle of subjudice should not be defined in a context that will curtail the lawmakers’ freedom in raising issues that are of public and national importance in the House,” he said.
However, Mohamad Ariff did not lift the interim gag order issued by the High Court against discussing the criminal charges against Najib.
“I have scrutinised and decided that it involves a criminal case in the Malaysian court.
“As such, that matter is not allowed to be discussed, debated or mentioned in the Dewan.
“This is to respect the court’s jurisdiction and based on the principle of separation of powers,” he said.
Mohamad Ariff had made the ruling after Datuk Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau) sought his advice on the previous decision made by former speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia on the matter.
In March 2016, a ruling was made in the House that lawmakers were not allowed to bring up the RM2.6bil issue, which was the subject of a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigation then.
In October 2016, Pandikar Amin also ruled that there was no need for questions on the DOJ civil suit to be raised or answered in Parliament, citing subjudice.