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Nazri “barking up the wrong tree” and should stop talking “rubbish” on the  Said-Shahrir “close one eye” and “BN MPs not allowed conscience” scandals

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

Parliament, Tuesday) : Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri yesterday said  former Barisan Nasional BackBenchers’ Club Chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad and I should  “shut up” and not interfere with the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and the Attorney-General in investigations into the report which had been lodged against the MP for Jasin Datuk Mohd Said Yusof for asking the Malacca Customs Department to “close one eye” about the illegal import of sawn timber from Indonesia involving his own company.

Nazri is “barking up the wrong tree” and he should stop talking “rubbish” on the Said-Shahrir “close one eye” and “BN MPs not allowed conscience” scandals.


It was reported yesterday that Deputy Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional Chief Whip, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, said Mohd Said and the customs officers involved in the “close on eye” scandal will be asked to explain at a special hearing.


Is Nazri going to tell Najib to “shut up” as well and that the Barisan Nasional Chief Whip should not interfere with the ACA investigations and the Attorney-General’s duties?


I cannot speak on behalf of Shahrir but I dare say that nobody has any intention to interfere with the ACA investigations into the report which had been lodged by the DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng last Thursday on the Said “close one eye” scandal.  The question is whether the ACA can conduct its investigations and the Attorney-General discharge his duties with independence, integrity and professionalism.


If there is anybody interfering with the ACA and Attorney-General, it is neither Shahrir nor me, but Najib.  It is perfectly in order for Najib to summon Said to explain, but what locus standi has he as Barisan Nasional Chief Whip to summon the custom officers to a special hearing which can only be concerned about whether Said has breach discipline as a BN MP, a strictly party matter?


It would appear that Nazri does not fully understand the complexities of the different issues which had been thrown up by the “close one eye” scandal, which was followed closely by the even bigger “BN MPs not allowed conscience” scandal.  At least three separate issues are involved in the “close one eye” scandal, viz:


  • Whether Said is guilty of  conflict-of-interest and corruption in his “close one eye” intervention with the Customs Department;


  • Whether Said is guilty of breach of parliamentary privileges; and


  • Whether he had violated Barisan Nasional party discipline.


Whether Said has breached Barisan Nasional party discipline may hinge on the outcome of ACA investigations, but whether the MP for Jasin had breached parliamentary privileges involve factors and considerations larger than matters falling within the ambit of the ACA and the Attorney-General, for instance, the propriety of his intervention with the Customs Department as MP on his own behalf (whether ACA recommends corruption prosecution or otherwise); his various statements  in Parliament on the Customs Department  as well as the “close one eye” scandal without ever  declaring his pecuniary interests on the issue in clear violation of parliamentary standing orders, etc.


Parliament runs the risk of further public ridicule and contempt of utter impotence and irrelevance  if Nazri’s advice is followed - that Parliament must suspend all consideration on Said’s position on the “close one eye” scandal until outcome of ACA investigations.


Hypothetically, If Said is charged in court for corruption as a result of the ACA investigations, and the corruption case takes three to five years before it is finally disposed by the courts  all at levels of the appellate process, is Parliament to do nothing for the entire period whether three or five years on whether Said has breached parliamentary privileges?


I advise Nazri to stop talking “rubbish” for he has been saying many things about the “close one eye” and “BN MPs not allowed conscience” scandals which do not bear scrutiny and debate, for instance, his triple claims why  the Committee of Privileges is not the proper body to investigate as to whether Said is guilty of breach of parliamentary privileges: (i) that a newspaper report cannot be the basis of privilege investigations; (ii) that the conduct of an MP outside Parliament Chamber is not subject-matter for Committee of Privileges; and (iii) the lack  and inadequacy of punitive powers of the Committee of Privileges.


If Nazri sets his Ministry officials to research on the subject, he will find that his contentions on all three grounds have no basis whatsoever.


As Nazri made the “shut up” statement after opening the Meeting of International  Experts on Human Rights in Islam, he would be well-advised to take up the issue of the violation of human rights of BN MPs with the imposition of the undemocratic and feudalistic rule that BN MPs cannot support Opposition motions whether right or wrong and cannot vote according to their conscience but must toe the party line.

As BN assistant whip, he should also be defending the human rights of BN MPs instead of trampling on  them.


Nazri should stop  barking up the wrong tree and talking “rubbish”. Let him do something meaningful, especially as Malaysia has just been elected for a three-year term to a seat on the recently established United Nations Human Rights Council replacing the much-criticised Human Rights Commission.

Under the new rules, all members of the United Nations must submit to reviews of their human rights records, with the 47  members of the council as the first to be scrutinized.

There are at least three immediate steps to improve human rights that must be taken in keeping with Malaysia’s election on the new UN Human Rights Council, viz:

  • establishment of a First-World Suhakam with legislative amendments to ensure that the Malaysian Human Rights Commission  is not  a “toothless tiger” in the promotion and protection of human rights as was the case  in the past six years, as well as institutional changes such as the appointment of an independent search committee comprising MPs from the ruling and opposition parties and  representatives from  civil society groups to recommend appointments of Suhakam commissioners.
  • establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on Human Rights in the June meeting of Parliament, not only to address human rights concerns in the country but also to monitor Malaysia’s role as a member of the United Nations Human  Rights Council for the next three years.
  • Welcome the visit of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, Hina Jilani, who complained in her latest annual report that she had “repeatedly indicated her interest” in visiting Malaysia but  “regrets that the Government (of Malaysia) has given no positive response to her request”.

Is Nazri prepared to advocate these three issues in Cabinet and Government?


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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