Wednesday 21 March 2012

PAC to tiptoe around NFC court case

Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will continue its probe into alleged irregularities by the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), despite the Dewan Rakyat speaker's ruling against discussions on matters related to ongoing court cases.

NONE"The speaker has forbidden (debate) in the House on court cases only. If it doesn't touch on a court case, it is allowed," PAC chairperson Azmi Khalid (right) said today.

He was referring to statements by speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia several days ago, yesterday and again today, telling MPs to refrain from discussing issues that touch on cases in the courts, such as the NFC issue.

Azmi said he would have to check the Hansard, which will be made available to the committee in the next few days, to confirm the speaker's ruling.

Asked to comment on news reports that the speaker had directly asked PAC to stop its probe into NFC, Azmi said it was not so.

"We were advised to adhere to the ruling made in the Dewan Rakyat... As the PAC and the Dewan are of the same stature, we should follow the decision," he said.

However, Azmi said PAC could "tiptoe around the matter" by not touching on specifics related to court cases to ensure that public trust, and its duty to provide checks and balances, are fulfilled.

"This is government money, passed by Parliament. PAC has a duty to monitor and look into such matters," Azmi added.

Earlier today, Kamaruddin Jaafar (PAS-Tumpat) who is also a PAC member had raised the matter in the House pertainig to select committees, like the one newly set up for the Lynas Advance Materials Plant in Gebeng Kuantan, with reference to a standing order disallowing discussions in the House or select committees that may touch on ongoing court cases.

Pandikar informed him of the Dewan Rakyat ruling against such discourse, and added that the same ruling applies to the PAC which is also an adjunct of the Dewan Rakyat.

“Same as in NFC, when I heard there were discussions like that, I called the chairperson, I told him my stand that the committee is an extension of the House, whatever discussed must abide by Dewan Rakyat rulings when residing, that is they cannot discuss on matters that are subjudice.

“If they discuss, they should not touch on the matters (on court cases),” the speaker said.

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