Ahli-ahli Parlimen kini dibenarkan membangkitkan isu berkaitan 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB) dalam sidang Dewan Rakyat tetapi tertakluk kepada hal-hal sivil sahaja. Yang Dipertua Dewan Rakyat, Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md. Yusof berkata, kebenaran ini dibuat berdasarkan amalan yang telah dilakukan di peringkat antarabangsa termasuk Australia dan United Kingdom (UK). Walau bagaimanapun, Mohamad Arif tidak mengetepikan perintah tegahan sementara oleh Mahkamah Tinggi supaya tiada perbincangan isu-isu berkaitan bekas Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Katanya, kebenaran terbaharu ini adalah berlainan dengan keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi sebagai menghormati amalan pengasingan kuasa di negara ini.
“Prinsip subjudis ini sewajarnya tidak menghalang kebebasan dan hak untuk ahli-ahli Parlimen membangkitkan perkara yang menjdi perhatian masyarakat umum, selagi ia tidak melibatkan pertuduhan-pertuduhan jenayah berkaitan 1MDB,” katanya sebelum sesi penggulungan usul menjunjung kasih titah ucapan Yang di-Pertuan Agong oleh Kementerian Air, Tanah dan Sumber Asli dalam sidang Dewan Rakyat, hari ini. Mohamad Arif membuat keputusan itu setelah Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau) pada 25 Julai lalu yang meminta nasihatnya berhubung perintah bekas Yang Dipertua Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia yang menghalang semua ahli Parlimen daripada membincangkan isu berkenaan 1MDB.
Pada 2016, Pandikar menetapkan peraturan bahawa sebarang soalan berkaitan tindakan saman sivil Jabatan Kehakiman Amerika Syarikat (DOJ) dalam sidang Dewan Rakyat tidak perlu dijawab menteri berkenaan kerana bersifat subjudis. DOJ sebelum ini memfailkan saman sivil bagi mendapatkan kembali aset yang diperoleh melalui dana 1MDB yang didakwa telah diselewengkan. Pandikar berkata, keputusan yang dilakukannya bukan atas pengaruh atau untuk kepentingan pihak tertentu sebaliknya berdasarkan tiga Peraturan Mesyuarat iaitu Peraturan Mesyuarat 23(1)(g), 36(2) dan 21 (1)(a).
PARLIAMENT sittings will not go past midnight to ensure quality debates in the august house, said Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.Unlike previous sittings where debates can go on until the wee hours of the morning, sessions will now be shortened to ensure the debates remain fruitful.“We won’t (go past midnight). That is a bit excessive. There will be a reasonable cut-off point, beyond that cut-off point, it becomes inefficient.“What is the point? Around 9.30pm or push it to 10 something, people can still be alert. Past midnight, I’m not so sure people can be alert,” Ariff told The Malaysian Insight.The former Court of Appeal judge set the tone of his no-nonsense style in the first week of Parliament when he threw out DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh for refusing to retract a remark describing a group of Umno Youth members as “samseng”.
“I think a speaker has to act impartially. A speaker is the speaker of the entire house, government and the opposition“I’m not the speaker of the government MPs.”Ariff said he believes the Dewan Rakyat might sit for a longer period this time to address pressing issues and give bills enough time to be debated.“Basically, there must be ample time for bills to be read so that informed discussion can take place,” he said.The following are excerpts from his interview with The Malaysian Insight:
Q: What’s the biggest difference between being a speaker and judge? A: The atmosphere is different. As a judge, you sit in large chamber but not as large as Parliament (where) you have 222 members. In court, especially in the Court of Appeal, you get a crowd. The elements of crowd control, engaging with lawyers and maintaining impartiality. Here I’m engaging with YBs (lawmakers). It is a different atmosphere but there are similarities as well as differences. Q: Is Parliament totally new to you? A: I have visited Parliament before. I also have watched parliamentary sessions on YouTube. First point of call is the standing order. It’s not something I’ve not read before, even as a lawyer and judge.
I’ve decided a few cases on parliamentary procedure. If you remember, the case concerning Gobind Singh Deo (Puchong MP), his entitlement to privileges while he was suspended. I delivered a paper last year at Universiti Malaya, public lecture on things essentially involving the representation of private member’s bill. This is not totally new to me.Q: Why did you quit as Amanah member? A: I’ve relinquished all party positions. (A) speaker has to be fair. I come from outside, I’m not from a group of MPs. Q: How comfortable are you working with your deputies (Nga Kor Ming and Rashid Hasnon) as they are MPs? A: Very good, I enjoy working with them. Without them, I would probably lose 10 pounds! We rotate and work till 10pm. You cannot work alone in this sort of environment. I don’t have full experience, my deputy speakers have been in the house as MPs.
Q: What is the most meaningful thing to you as speaker? A: One thing I’m excited about really is not just being a speaker. Being here in Parliament at an opportune time, in the development of Malaysian democracy. With the elections, it generated interest in the region. People are looking at Malaysia as a beacon of hope for democracy. Particularly, in the multiracial set up. We have managed to transit from a period where one party ruled for 60 years peacefully… we have another group that has formed the government. We have this opportunity to grow from a mature system to a more mature political system. It can be quite challenging for us to be an example for others to emulate. We have to perform. Everyone will have a role to play. – August 1, 2018.
New Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof shuns comparisons between himself and his predecessor, Pandikar Amin Mulia.”I do not want to bring up what my predecessor has done, it could be right or wrong. I take things as of now, instead of yesterday.”It is not good to keep harping on the past, I prefer to look to the future,” Mohamad Ariff told Malaysiakini in an interview at his office in Parliament. Many of Pandikar’s rulings in his decade as speaker were heavily criticised, perhaps none more so when he decreed that bringing up the 1MDB affair in the Dewan Rakyat was tantamount to “sub judice”.
Asked whether he would allow any topic being debated, the former judge said he could not provide “ironclad” assurance, but said the rule of law will be upheld.”I cannot speak for my predecessor, I can only say the current government is committed to the rule of law.”We have said it a few times: in Parliament, everyone must be given the opportunity to air his or her views.”You may not like it, but let’s hear him or her out, and then we engage, we have an intellectual debate,” he said.These are the essentials of the new robust and responsible parliamentary culture that Mohamad Ariff wants to inculcate.
On Dewan Rakyat debates being sub judice to ongoing cases, Mohamad Ariff said he will make a ruling based on his understanding of the term and what he regards as proper parliamentary convention if this matter arises.As a High Court judge, he had dismissed a contempt proceeding brought by Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) against lawyer Fahda Nur Ahmad Kamar, who spoke in public about the water industry takeover while acting for the Selangor state government.Citing British judge Tom Denning’s famous maxim “Fair comment does not prejudice a fair trial,” Mohamad Ariff ruled that the court had to be cautious in applying contempt proceedings to curtail freedom of speech.
And in 2015, he reportedly disagreed with the sub judice argument put forth by the government in not having former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak answer questions in Parliament about the RM2.6 billion channelled into his personal account.He said that the matter of sub judice does not arise since the matter was not the subject of any court proceeding at the time.Nevertheless, Mohamad Ariff did point out a number of positive reforms Pandikar (photo) implemented when serving as Dewan Rakyat speaker.”The institution of a second chamber is a move in a good direction. The Minister’s Question Time (MQT) is working out quite well too,” Ariff said.
The MQT, where ministers answer questions from MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, is based on the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ) that is conducted in the British Parliament.On whether he would implement a similar feature, Mohamad Ariff said the MQT already plays that function.”It (MQT) is working out to be the Prime Minister’s Question Time as well.”The prime minister comes every week to answer questions. It may not be called PMQ, but it has elements of it,” he said.But one feature from the British Parliament that Mohamad Ariff does want to see implemented is the eventual appointment of a speaker from the House – despite his own appointment coming under heavy fire.
The contentiousness of his appointment to the post arose from the Pakatan Harapan promise that the Dewan Rakyat speaker would be chosen from among elected representatives.While Mohamad Ariff pointed out that the Federal Constitution does allow for an outsider to be made the speaker, he maintained that the manifesto promise should eventually be fulfilled.”There are pros and cons. If you have an outsider as speaker, then you do not lose an extra vote… and perhaps an outsider can be more impartial too.”But I tend to agree that, in the long-run and being consistent with the manifesto, we should work along the lines of the British Parliament,” he said.
MOHAMAD Ariff Md Yusof wants more select committees and to reinstate the Parliamentary Services Act, which was repealed in 1992, as part of his reform plans for the Dewan Rakyat. The newly minted Dewan Rakyat speaker and former Court of Appeal judge said the changes are part of what was outlined in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.