08 June, 2010

No legal counsel for Anwar

The parliamentary rights and privileges committee has convened its meeting to consider the propriety of specific remarks made in the House by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

However, he was asked to leave the room while the committee decided on his formal requests for an open hearing and legal representation.

MPs Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai), Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong), Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) and Loh Gwo-Burne (PKR-Kelana Jaya) had initially entered the meeting room as observers, but were sent out immediately.

"It's clear cut. The rules clearly state that MPs are allowed, so when we objected, they are deciding again," said Gobind.

The committee then decided that Anwar's lawyer and former Bar Council head S Ambiga could be present as an observer.

Anwar, who is accused of misleading the house over the Apco Worldwide issue, attended the first part of the meeting but was asked to leave shortly afterwards.

Committee members Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) and R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) said it was disappointing the majority of the members voted against Anwar having legal representation during the hearing.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia chaired today's meeting. The committee members present, besides Karpal and Sivarasa, were deputy speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee, Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn (BN-Alor Gajah), Datuk Razali Ibrahim (BN-Muar) and Nancy Shukri (BN-Batang Sadong).

"Anwar has been denied the privilege to appear with counsel, the position which was taken by four members (excluding the speaker) but Sivarasa and I were against it," Karpal, the DAP national chairman, said.

He said Standing Order 83 rule 7(A) states the committee has the right to allow counsel for anyone who appears before it.

Karpal said the proceeding has been adjourned to tomorrow but Anwar will not be present.

Sivarasa said Anwar's absence is against the laws of natural justice "because you can’t take evidence in the absence of the accused".

"We take a serious view of what has happened. We thought Anwar should not just be given the right of counsel but the right to be represented by a counsel," he said.

He also said the committee has called representatives from Apco Worldwide for tomorrow 's hearing.

The firm, employed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's administration, was allegedly linked to the Zionist regime, according to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's speech in the Dewan Rakyat on March 17.

Anwar alleged that Apco Worldwide was behind both Najib's 1Malaysia concept and the 'One Israel' initiative.

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