KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 – Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun has the power to initiate for the suspension of Standing Order by referring it to the Parliament for a decision pursuant to Standing Order 90(2) and with the suspension of Standing Order 85, any Parliamentary Committees proceedings can be aired online and be opened to public, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor Wong Kah Woh said today.
Wong, who is also Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said this in response to a statement from Azhar that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) meeting scheduled for Wednesday (Jan 19) to discuss the shareholdings of MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki will not be opened to the public due to the Parliament’s Standing Orders.
In a statement here today, Wong also disputed Azhar’s view that the close-door proceedings would ensure complete cooperation from everyone involved.
“Firstly, all witnesses are duty bound to give full cooperation to the Committee and shall answer all
questions raised to him during the Parliamentary Committees’ proceedings.
“Secondly, any person who gives false answers has not only committed a contempt of the House, but
is also liable for an offence under Section 193 of the Penal Code as provided for in Section 20 of the
Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952.
“Thirdly, all the notes of proceedings are recorded in the form of Handsard and will be published
together with the Committee’s report. Close-door proceeding doesn’t automatically guarantee a
witness’ honesty, and open-proceeding doesn’t mean a witness can then evade from telling the
truth. It makes no difference on the issue of the content of the testimony of the witnesses, whether
or not the proceeding is closed or opened.”
Wong said opening up the proceedings to the public will be a serious towards parliamentary reforms.
“Reforms will not complete if we are still holding proceedings via close-door. The Parliamentary Standing Order Committee in 2019 has made the decision for all Parliamentary Committees’ proceedings be made public, and the hardware requirements for live proceedings are all ready and in place on the Malaysia Parliament TV Channel.”
The exception should only be for cases that involve national security, he said.
Citing the case involving the MACC chief commissioner, he said: “With such an important subject in hand, why is the Speaker still hesitant for an open-proceedings to enable the public to watch, evaluate and scrutinise the testimony given by the witnesses?”
“It is the public’s right to know that matters. It is an important issue that involves the top rank officer
which had put the integrity of MACC at stake. It is time for the Speaker to ensure that all
Parliamentary Committees can function efficiently and effectively to check on the executive.”
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki should go on leave while under investigation, Tan Sri Rais Yatim said on Friday (Jan 14). The Dewan Negara president, who is also Parliamentary Special Committee on Corruption (JKMR) chairman, said this was the norm when a government officer is under probe.