Action on Najib for Felda White Paper embargo violation

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / pic by TMR FILE

THE Dewan Rakyat passed a motion to refer Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak to the parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee (RPC) for violating the embargo placed on the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) White Paper.

Najib, who has turned into a social media influencer after his coalition was booted out of power in May, struck a controversial note on Tuesday after he posted screenshots of the White Paper with excerpts on Felda’s stake purchase in PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk.

The embargo on the document was only lifted the following day after Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali presented the paper in Parliament.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s (PM) Department (Law) Datuk Liew View Keong tabled an amended motion yesterday which sought for Najib to be referred to the RPC for breaching Clause 95A of the Standing Orders.

The original motion had proposed to suspend Najib from the Dewan Rakyat for three months over the embargo violation.

The motion was passed after a two-hour debate, with 86 votes for the proposal versus 33 votes against.

Opposition MPs claimed the embargo had lapsed before the tabling of the report as it had been uploaded into the archives of the Parliament website. The public has access to the website.

Opposition chief Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had earlier claimed the document uploaded on the website did not state any embargo restrictions, unlike the physical copies distributed to MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.

He argued that it was “impossible” for Najib to know if the document had been embargoed as the former PM had not attended any Parliament sessions throughout the week.

“Since he (Najib) was not present, did he know that the document was embargoed because it has already been uploaded on the Parliament website.

“In fact, the White Paper is still on his desk. Maybe, what he had, came from the website. I hope there are no personal agenda against the Pekan MP,” he said.

MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (Pontian-Barisan Nasional) claimed the document was uploaded on the website on Tuesday evening.

Liew dismissed the claims in his winding-up speech, stating that there were no online copies of the White Paper on the Parliament website before Azmin’s presentation on Wednesday.

“There was no link on the web on Tuesday. What happened on the day was, at 3am, Parliament officials had distributed the embargoed hardcopies, so that MPs could get them before the Dewan Rakyat session began at 10am.

“At 5.39pm on the same day (April 9), Najib had uploaded snapshots of the hardcopy on his Facebook account. The next day at 11.43am, the Gombak MP (Azmin) stood to deliver his presentation.

“At 11.51am, eight minutes into his speech, the document was uploaded onto the Parliament website,” Liew said.

He added that the parliamentary committee will investigate the matter further and establish the correct facts before any further action is taken against Najib.

Azmin had earlier described Najib’s act of leaking an embargoed document as a “serious offence” with stern actions to be taken against the Pekan MP.

PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the action against Najib will remind him that “no one is protected” from regulations in Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Dewan Rakyat also passed a motion to appoint Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad (Parit Sulong-Barisan Nasional) as the new Public Accounts Committee chairman, replacing Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee (BeluranPakatan Harapan).

Being the first woman to chair the committee, Noraini was unanimously elected by Pakatan Harapan and Opposition lawmakers after Liew tabled the motion, proposing her appointment in Parliament yesterday.

The motion was approved without a debate, reflecting a rare bipartisanship.

In a press conference that followed, Noraini said she will continue Kiandee’s work, including all the probes, while taking into account new changes proposed by her predecessor.

“Some proves such as the Goods and Services Tax refund are close to be concluded, so I will continue with what’s due.

“There are also some changes proposed by Kiandee to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat in October last year, and I will follow up on that to ensure that our requests are heard,” she said.

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