16 March, 2009

Gobind barred for linking next PM to murder !

The Dewan Rakyat today suspended Puchong Member Gobind Singh Deo for a year without allowance and benefits for insulting Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak by linking him to the Altantuya murder case in the House last week.

A government motion calling for the suspension of Gobind Singh Deo, from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), was passed after lawmakers from the opposition alliance staged a walkout in protest.

Parliament erupted into a furious row before the walkout as opposition lawmakers who control one-third of the 222-seat house protested against the Speaker's decision to deny Gobind an opportunity to defend himself.

"How do you proceed to condemn a person without giving him the opportunity even to speak?" said opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who leads the three-member Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.

When he was ordered to leave the House by Kiandee, he told the Deputy Speaker that "you should be ashamed of yourself".

In the motion, Nazri said the allegation was serious, and had breached the rights and privileges of an MP and was in contempt of the House.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, who supported the motion as he wanted to ensure all MPs learn to "behave" themselves after this incident, approved the motion to be debated.

He said he had read the Hansard account of what happened that day and found that Gobind had committed offences under :-

>> Standing Order 36(6) for imputing improper motives to another member, Order 36(4) for using offensive language;

>> Standing Order 36(9) for mentioning the conduct and character of a member in another capacity,

>> Standing Order 36(2) for mentioning a matter which is sub judice:

>> Standing Order 36(10)(b) and (c) for using seditious words and words likely to promote feelings of ill-will against the government and between different communities.

Many Opposition MPs reacted by citing points or order, with some saying there was not enough notice given for the debate and also whether the matter was of public interest. The arguments took up 45 minutes, but the Speaker allowed the debate.

Later, as Nazri was winding up, the Opposition MPs walked out.

The House passed the motion at 1pm after government backbenchers voted for it.

Gobind is the first MP to be suspended so long without allowance and benefits. He has been kicked out of the House three times since he became an MP last March.

He told reporters at Parliament lobby later that he was disappointed with the decision.

"He (Najib) was in the House and I asked him to explain. That's all I did. As an MP, it is my duty to ask questions and I did not do anything wrong, as it is our right as an MP to seek clarifications." said Gobing who vowed to "continue to fight from outside".

Nazri told a press conference the motion did not raise the question of immunity because immunity only applies when an MP was brought to court for sedition.

He said the statement made by Gobind was done in bad faith because he had refused to repeat the statement outside the House.

"We did not want to refer the case to the privileges committee because we already have the evidence in the Hansard; therefore we do not need to go into committee to probe the case which will come back to us for a debate," he said, adding that a 12-month suspension was fair punishment as Gobind insulted not just an MP but the deputy prime minister.

"We must take quick action. If no action taken, it means it is true (for what Gobind had said). If we take action later and he continues to do it, he would be able to ask why no action was taken against him when he said it the first time," he added.

Yesterday, DAP chairman Karpal Singh had described the proposed motion to suspend Gobind as "a step derogatory of and a serious infringement of freedom of speech in the House".

Karpal said Gobind's allegation in Parliament last Thursday that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak was involved in the murder case did not merit such a motion to be taken against him.

"The Barisan Nasional should not be trigger-happy in tabling the motion," Karpal, who noted that the House was empowered to punish MPs for contempt under Section 9 of the Houses of Parliament (Privileges & Power) Act 1952 in which offences are set out.

He, however, argued that the allegation made by his son Gobind did not come within the scope and ambit of any of the relevant paragraphs (a) to (n) in Section 9.

Karpal had called on Pandikar Amin to carefully study Section 9 of the Act before allowing Nazri to table the motion.

He called on Pandikar to "uphold his duty to protect the interests of all MPs, irrespective of whether they are from the Opposition or the government".

"Stifling freedom of speech in the House does not speak well of a world-class parliament which the Malaysian Parliament is striving to be," added Karpal.

From Padang Besar to Tanjung Piai and across to Kudat across the South China Sea, people are talking about Musa Safri, the disappearance of P Balasubramiam and Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s link with the Altantuya Shaariibuu case.

Well maybe not in Parliament anymore after today.

DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo received the full brunt of the Barisan Nasional’s simple majority today when they voted to kick him out of the Dewan Rakyat for a year, hoping the innuendoes and aspersions will go away with his 12-month suspension.

The first-term Puchong MP’s crime was to cast aspersions on the incoming Prime Minister with the murder case which has rocked the political establishment since 2006.

But there are too many unanswered questions about the case and if not cleared up anytime soon, Najib could become a caricature for everything wrong about a Malaysian politician.....read more here.



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