THE Dewan Rakyat passed a motion to refer former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the Rights and Privileges Committee for breaking an embargo on the Felda White Paper.
The motion was brought by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
Najib, who was not present in Parliament, was referred to the committee after a motion against him was passed after two hours of heated debates.
Liew said Najib was referred to the committee to allow him to defend himself before any punishment was meted out.
Earlier, during debates, opposition chief Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob noted that what was tabled by Liew differed from what was contained in the Order Paper.
He said the initial wordings of the motion had stated that Najib would be suspended for three months but they were changed at the last minute to refer him to the committee instead.
Ismail also argued that the motion against Najib should have been withdrawn, claiming that the White Paper on Felda was uploaded on Parliament’s website a day before it was tabled.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) also said that he was able to access the White Paper on Tuesday from the Parliament’s website.
In response, Liew said the government did not want to presume any wrongdoing by Najib as he had the right to argue his case before the committee.
He also insisted that Parliament staff did not break any embargo or upload the White Paper onto the Parliament’s website.
In giving a timeline, Liew said Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali presented the White Paper in Parliament on Wednesday at 11.43am and the paper’s contents were uploaded on the website eight minutes later.Liew also said Parliament staff only laid the hard copy of the White Paper on the tables of lawmakers at 3am on Wednesday.
“Therefore, no one would have been able to access the soft copy until Wednesday at 11.51am after YB Gombak (Azmin) tabled it.
“What YB Pontian saw on the website was merely the link without any content inside,” he said.
Earlier during the debate, some opposition lawmakers also took a jibe at the last-minute changes in the Order Paper to penalise Najib.
Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) also said there was no point in wasting time debating the motion.
“Why not just be oppressive all the way and suspend him for three months, as what was intended before it was tweaked,” said Bung.
Najib was said to have breached Clause 95A of the Standing Order of Dewan Rakyat with regard to disregarding an embargo placed on the Felda White Paper on Wednesday.
Najib posted a photograph of excerpts of the White Paper on his Facebook on Tuesday to defend Felda’s action over the controversial purchase of a 37% stake in Indonesia’s Eagle High Plantation.
His action came before the House lifted the embargo on the Felda document at 11.30am on Wednesday when the White Paper was tabled by Azmin.