KUALA LUMPUR: Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not break the embargo on the Felda White Paper because the document was uploaded to the Parliament official website a day before the restriction was lifted, claims opposition leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
The Bera MP claimed the Felda White Paper was published on the Parliament website on Tuesday (April 9), a day before the embargo was lifted on Wednesday (April 10).
"Evidence clearly shows that the embargoed document became a public document after the Parliament website published it on April 9, which could be accessed by anyone.
"So, the embargo was nullified after it became a public document," he said.
Ismail claimed Bloomberg's report on April 9, which stated that Felda was seeking an RM6bil bailout from the government, was also contained in the White Paper.
"If there was an embargo, no one should know about the RM6bil bailout. It should only be known after the White Paper was tabled by the Minister on April 10 – but the report was published on April 9," he said.
A check by The Star found that Bloomberg's report was carried by several news outlets on April 9.
He accused the Pakatan Harapan government of having an agenda to punish Najib.
"Pekan (Najib) should not have been punished or referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee," Ismail added.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) showed how the public can access the document themselves, and claimed that there was no embargo stated on the document dated April 9.
"Go to the Parliament official website, open the White Paper document titled 'Kertas Putih ke arah Kelestarian Lembaga Lemajuan Tanah Persekutuan', right click your mouse, and click inspect.
"You will see the evidence," he said.
The Pontian MP claimed that it is standard operating procedure (SOP) for Parliament to release documents a day before it is made public.
"Last night, on April 10, I went to the official Parliament website and all the leaflets that were supposed to be released today (April 11) were already uploaded.
"So, it means that documents that are supposed to be released on April 10 are uploaded on April 9," he added.
Ismail said it was pointless to blame any of the Parliament staff members.
"What we are defending here is that Pekan (Najib) might have obtained the information from the website. We don't want to blame anyone. We want to ensure the government isn't too heavy handed with Najib," he said.
De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong in a press conference earlier said that physical copies of the Felda White Paper were placed on the desks of the MPs at 3am on April 9.
"We can see that our Parliament staff are working professionally to ensure that the embargoed document were placed on the desks at 3am to give MPs a chance to read through before the sitting commences after 10am," he said.
Most importantly, Liew said that Najib be given an opportunity to explain his side of the story to the Rights and Privileges Committee.
"Let the committee do the necessary and investigate the various issues raised by the MPs," he added.