MEMBERS of Parliament from the Opposition staged a walkout when Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof refused to cite Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for allegedly misleading the House.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had submitted a motion to refer Lim to the Rights and Privileges Committee after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found no evidence to support his claim last year that the previous administration “robbed” RM19.4bil in Goods and Sales Tax (GST) credit refunds.
Ariff rejected the motion and said Lim had used the words “robbery” and “robber” figuratively to describe how GST revenue was unlawfully diverted, which the PAC investigation found to have occurred.
He ruled that there were no grounds to refer Lim to the committee over his statement that RM15bil in GST refunds was “stolen” by the Barisan Nasional administration.
“I’ve made my ruling and my decision is final. You can file a separate motion for the PAC report to be debated if you want,” he said.
Ismail Sabri interjected and reminded the Speaker that the issue was over the words perompak (robber) and mencuri (stealing) by Lim, following the PAC’s findings that the GST refunds were not missing.
He noted the PAC’s findings that there have been procedural and accounting weaknesses, where GST refunds were channelled to the Consolidated Fund account.
“We are not asking Lim to be referred directly to the committee. What we want is for the motion to be debated and a vote (to be) taken,” he said.
Ariff, however, maintained his decision, which was objected by Barisan MPs including Tan Sri Annuar Musa (BN-Ketereh) who suggested that Lim retract the use of the word “stolen”, and to expunge the word from the Hansard.
Ariff again rejected this and a shouting match ensued.
A group of Opposition MPs then walked out in protest but came back into the House shortly after.