Friday 5 October 2012

PKR: Gag order on PAC a breach of standing orders

The Dewan speaker’s gag order on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) from speaking to the media is a breach of standing orders and parliamentary privileges, said PKR.

“Standing Order 85, which is relied on by speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, only prohibits disclosure of specific evidence and documents taken by the PAC.

NONE“It does not authorise a blanket gag order upon the PAC as directed by Pandikar,” said PKR vice-president N Surendran (left) in a statement today.

“Pandikar's direction is a transparent attempt to protect the scandal-ridden (Barisan National) BN government from the embarrassment of more revelations of financial misconduct, corruption and irregularities,” he added.

It was reported yesterday that Pandikar, in his letter dated June 27, barred PAC, which scrutinises the use of public funds, from disclosing its proceedings to the media prior to tabling its findings to Parliament.

The speaker argued that the committee was part of Parliament and therefore Parliament has the right to be informed of its findings first.

This was rebutted by Surendran who said that the PAC is answerable only to the Parliament as a whole, rather than Pandikar himself.

“The speaker has no business sending peremptory directions to the PAC as has been done by Pandikar in this case.

“It is nothing less than an attempt to emasculate select committees such as the PAC, consistent with the BN's longstanding treatment of Parliament as a glorified rubber stamp,” he said, while urging Pandikar to withdraw the letter.

Surendran also pointed out that in contrast to Pandikar’s actions, his British counterpart John Bercow has been calling for select committees to be given “extensive new powers” to conduct public scrutiny.

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