I agree with new Minister in PM’s Department in charge of parliamentary affairs Azalina Othman for an emergency Parliament sitting but with the agenda to appoint new PAC chairman as well as to decide on future of “Special Task Force on 1MDB”

I agree with the new Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Azalina Othman Said for an emergency Parliament sitting but with the agenda to appoint the new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman as well as to decide on the future of the “Special Task Force on 1MDB”.

I am very surprised that Shahidan Kassim has been so summarily removed as the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of parliamentary affairs after being assigned the portfolio for less than 27 months, without the basic courtesy of an announcement of the change of portfolio by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak but by Azalina herself in Kota Tinggi, Johor on Saturday.

Does this tantamount to a verdict that Shahidan had failed as the Minister in charge of parliamentary affairs and if so, why is he retained as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department?

Does Shahidan know before Azalina’s announcement that he had lost charge of parliamentary affairs, or is this a “coup” by Azalina considering that she has very powerful forces backing her as a new Cabinet Minister?

This is a most shabby treatment for a UMNO loyalist like Shahidan but we are apparently in for very shabby times, considering the shabby and humiliating manner in which Tan Sri Gani Patail had been sacked as Attorney-General, although he had served as the No. 1 top legal officer of the government for nearly 13 years and was only two months short of mandatory retirement to reach the age of 60, as well the shabby treatment meted out to key officers of the “Special Task Force investigating 1MDB” – with the hunters of 1MDB crimes becoming the hunted themselves.

In fact, Gani may be the first person to become a non-person like in Stalinist Soviet Union, as if disappearing into Malaysia’s Gulag Archipelago, without anyone knowing whether the former Attorney-General is now a free person, and why he had not appeared to personally clarify on the issue whether he was making final drafts to charge the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for corruption before he was suddenly, summarily and shockingly sacked.

Coming back to Azalina, has she also usurped the portfolios of another Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri?

As if worried that her Ministerial responsibilities have not been noticed, Azalina yesterday called for an emergency Parliament sitting to amend cyber laws governing Internet and media usage such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

This is in support of the Prime Minister’s speeches on the UMNO national roadshow yesterday that if slander on social media is allowed to fester, it would alter the thinking paradigm of the people and create a state of “trial by social media”.

Najib had asked whether it was not “weird” that in the “trial by social media”, members of the administration will be declared guilty before trial but when it comes to the opposition, it is all considered defamation, not considered as the truth.

Najib cannot be more wrong as both leaders of government and opposition had been victims of abuses of social media.

I can talk with authority as I had long been a victim of the Umno/Barisan Nasional social media, falsely accused as being anti-Malay, anti-Islam, chauvinist, communist and even as the plotter responsible for the May 13 riots in 1969 leading processions in the streets of Kuala Lumpur and hurling anti-Malay abuses, when all these accusations are lies and baseless, as for instance, the fact that I was not even in Kuala Lumpur but was in Sabah when the May 13 riots in 1969 broke out.

Did Najib and his Ministers take any action against these vile and vicious falsehoods perpetrated by UMNO/BN social media against me all these years as well as against the DAP and all other Opposition leaders?

I agree that there must be laws to deal with these lies, falsehoods, incitement of racial and religious extremism, hatred and intolerance on the social media, and progressive MPs in DAP, PKR and Gerakan Harapan Baru are prepared to co-operate with the Umno/BN government to legislate laws to deal with such social media abuses.

Such legislative actions to deal with social media abuses, must be fair and comprehensive, and not be selective as targetted only at social media abuses against Umno/BN personalities while allowing free rein to social media abuses against Opposition leaders.

The right step to be taken would be for the emergency Parliament to set up a non-partisan Parliamentary Select Committee to study the issue and recommend legislative changes that should be made to existing laws.

There is also an equally compelling case for an emergency Parliament before Merdeka Day on August 31 to appoint the new PAC chairman as well as to decide on future of “Special Task Force on 1MDB”.

There are efforts to stop the PAC from continuing with its hearings on the 1MDB scandal later this week because of the Cabinet reshuffle last Tuesday, which has resulted in the vacancy of PAC Chairman and three PAC members because of their Ministerial or Deputy Ministerial elevations.

The Parliamentary Standing Orders are very clear that the remaining PAC, headed by the PAC Vice Chairman, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, is duty bound to continue with its 1MDB hearings and it is no business even of the Parliament Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Mulia Amin to interfere and frustrate the PAC from its 1MDB hearings.

Is the Speaker going to order that the PAC under Vice Chairman and the PAC members be locked out of Parliament to frustrate them from holding their PAC hearings on 1MDB?

If so, the Parliament Speaker will be making the Malaysian Parliament the laughing stock of Commonwealth Parliaments and the world!

One solution for such an impasse, which is the handiwork of the Prime Minister and the Executive, is to hold an emergency Parliament to appoint the new PAC Chairman and to fill the three other vacancies caused by the reshuffle, without in any manner interfering with PAC hearings on 1MDB which had been scheduled very much earlier.

Furthermore, the emergency Parliament would also be able to focus on the one single issue which had brought the higher reaches of the entire government machinery of Malaysia to a halt – the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, and in particular the future of the “Special Task Force on 1MDB”, now that the hunters for the 1MDB crimes have suddenly themselves become the hunted.

Let Najib come to Parliament to inform MPs and the nation to give a full and frank account about the 1MDB scandal – in particular to say a simple Yes or No to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report a month ago that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had been deposited into Najib’s personal accounts in AmBank in March 2013 just before the 13th General Election, where the monies came from and where to whom they have gone to.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah