KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — Parliament can actually debate Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s release from the Yayasan Akalbudi trial through a court order for the latter’s discharge without amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) of all 47 charges, federal opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) has said.
PN’s parliamentary chief whip Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan last night also criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s rejection of a parliamentary debate on Zahid’s case, claiming that Anwar’s action was in breach of laws and allegedly a “clear abuse of powers”.
Takiyuddin said that it is solely within the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s jurisdiction and discretion to decide whether to accept or reject a motion to debate Zahid’s case, also saying that the prime minister — despite his role as head of Parliament’s council — does not have any powers or right to determine or decide based on the Dewan Rakyat’s standing order if there are any motions raised to debate the matter.
“Here it is clear that the Prime Minister has made a statement that exceeds his jurisdiction and role as council head (Ketua Majlis) which preempts the decision that should be made by the Dewan Rakyat speaker,” Takiyuddin said in a statement issued close to midnight.
Takiyuddin said that there is no issue of “sub judice” — a principle that limits discussions and debates on an ongoing court case that has yet to be decided — in Zahid’s case, as it had already ended when the attorney general (AG) discontinued the trial and which resulted in the High Court being placed in a position of having no choice but to discharge Zahid.
Legal experts previously told Malay Mail that the courts could only choose between either a DNAA or an acquittal when the AG discontinues a trial, and that the courts cannot order for the trial to go on in such situations.
“It is clear this matter should be able to be discussed by the public, what more by Members of Parliament in an official forum of public interest in the Dewan Rakyat,” Takiyuddin said.
He added that it was increasingly necessary and pressing for Zahid’s case to be debated in Parliament since it impacts not only the legal and judicial institutions, but also the image and integrity of both the government and the country in the eyes of Malaysians and the international community.
Referring to Prime Minister Anwar’s assertion that the AG is neither a minister or MP to reject parliamentary debate on Zahid’s case, Takiyuddin said such a reason was unacceptable.
Takiyuddin said that Anwar himself and his political party had while they were the opposition previously had also raised issues such as court cases involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in Parliament, and that ministers had given answers and clear explanations regarding such matters.
“PN truly believes that based on the non-positive situation existing within society about this issue, therefore the prosecution’s decision which led to the DNAA order has to be scrutinised and inspected by Parliament as it is closely related with the issue of integrity and confidence towards not just the Attorney General’s Chambers, but PN also imagines the high probability of interference by the government itself in this case,” Takiyuddin claimed.
“Therefore PN calls upon and hopes that the Dewan Rakyat Speaker will make a respected ruling regarding this matter based on existing rules and laws justly without fear or favour and without bowing to pressure from anyone including the government,” he said.
On Friday, Anwar said court cases cannot be discussed in Parliament and that Parliament is not a courtroom for such questions to be raised as the AG is neither a MP nor a minister.
Anwar reportedly said Zahid’s DNAA cannot be debated in a special Parliament sitting, and said the government has no objections to questions being raised about the case during normal sessions at the Dewan Rakyat.
Anwar was responding to the PKR Youth’s Thursday call for an emergency sitting in the Dewan Rakyat to debate Zahid’s DNAA.
Tomorrow will be the start of a six-day special sitting at the Dewan Rakyat for the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) Mid-Term Review. The review is aimed at evaluating achievements of Malaysia’s five-year plan during its first two years (2021 to 2022) and its direction for the remaining three years (2023 to 2025).
Anwar is scheduled to table the 12MP on Monday (September 11), followed by debates from Tuesday to Thursday (September 12 to September 14), and ministers’ replies on the following Monday and Tuesday (September 18 and 19).
After the prosecution said on Monday that it would discontinue Zahid’s case and asked for a DNAA, the High Court on the same day granted a DNAA and declined to grant an acquittal as sought by Zahid’s lawyers.
A DNAA means an accused person can face trial for the same charges in the future if the prosecution decides to reinstate them.
Zahid, who is also Umno president, was facing 47 charges, namely, 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to over RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges of over RM21.25 million in alleged bribes.