New PAC Chairman Hasan Arifin is more concerned about shutting up Tony Pua on 1MDD than about completing PAC investigations and getting to the bottom of the RM2.6 billion “donation” and 1MDB twin mega scandals

On the first day of the current budget parliamentary meeting on Oct. 19, Parliament elected the UMNO/BN MP for Rompin, Datuk Hasan Arifin as the new Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, which had been derailed for three months from continuing its 1MDB investigations because of the promotion of the previous PAC Chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad and three other PAC members as Minister and Deputy Ministers.

However, in the 17 days that he had become PAC Chairman, Hasan seemed more interested in shutting up the DAP MP for PJ Utara and PAC member, Tony Pua, from speaking about the 1MDB scandal both inside and outside Parliament, than about completing the derailed PAC investigations and getting to the bottom of the RM2.6 billion “donation” and 1MDB twi mega scandals.

Was this the “brief” that was given to Hasan before his name was proposed as the PAC Chairman in Parliament – his KPI (Key Performance Indicator) as PAC Chairman being to stop Tony Pua from continuing to speak about the RM2.6 billion “donation” and 1MDB twin mega scandals, both inside and outside Parliament?

Hasan has insisted that the Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has imposed a blanket gag on Pua from commenting on the 1MDB, including debating about 1lMDB in Parliament.

Quoting Pandikar as having said that it was “difficult to differentiate between the chilli from the spice or the sweet and the sugar”, Hasan said that he would advise the PAC and Pandikar if Pua makes any remark about the 1MDB.

Hasan is clearly twisting the Speaker’s words, as Pandikar had told Pua in Parliament yesterday morning that he could talk on 1MDB if he did not touch on the PAC’s 1MDB probe and Pua had repeated umpteenth times that he had never made use of any classified information which he had obtained as a member of PAC.

A blanket ban on a Member of Parliament from speaking inside and outside Parliament on a particular subject matter would be a most shocking, unprecedented and outrageous parliamentary practice, showing to the world that there is something very wrong with the Malaysian Parliament.

In fact, it would fly in the face of current parliamentary practice in Malaysia, as Pua devoted his entire speech in the debate on the 2016 Budget on 27th October 2015 on the 1MDB scandal, without ever touching on information presented in the PAC.

In fact, at one stage, the Deputy Speaker presiding over Parliament at the time, Datuk Seri Robert Kiandee specifically asked Pua whether he was “extracting” information from the Auditor-General’s Interim Report to the PAC, which is still confidential and classified – and Pua made it clear that he was not doing so.

Was Robert Kiandee breaking parliamentary rules, conventions and practices in allowing Pua to speak for half an hour in the 2016 Budget debate solely on the 1MDB subject?

Neither Pua nor Robert Kiandee had broken any parliamentary rules and conventions and the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be in Parliament on November 16 on the last day of the Ministerial winding-up of the debate on the 2016 Budget to reply to Pua and other Members of Parliament who have raised the same issue and give a proper and satisfactory accounting on the twin mega scandals afflicting Malaysia.

The Speaker , on his part, should clarify whether he had imposed a blanket ban on Pua from making any speech whatsoever, whether in Parliament or outside, on 1MDB even when not touching on the PAC’s 1MDB probe, or whether the PAC Chairman, Arifin is wrong in claiming that the Speaker had imposed a total ban on Pua from speaking on 1MDB.

Hasan would have failed as PAC Chairman if his primary task as PAC Chairman is to shut up Pua from speaking anywhere on the 1MDB scandal than speedily completing PAC’s derailed investigations and getting to the bottom of the 1MDB scandal.

Hasan owes Malaysians a proper explanation why he is taking his own sweet time to continue the derailed PAC investigations on 1MDB.

Why is the 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy only be summoned to appear before the the PAC on Dec. 1, when Arul should have already been summoned to appear before the PAC – as Hasan has been PAC Chairman for 17 days.

Is it because Arul Kanda Kandasamy is a very busy man and had no time for PAC hearings, the excuse he gave for absconding from the initial May 26 date fixed by PAC for his appearance?

The PAC next fixed August 5 for Arul’s appearance, but the whole PAC investigations into 1MDB was derailed when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak carried out his major 1MDB offensive at the end of July, which included the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Rural and Regional Development Minister, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, the dissolution of the multi-agency Special Task Force on 1MDB and the three-month derailment of PAC investigations into 1MDB.

Arul seems to have a lot of time on his hands, and there can be no reason for the dilly-dally by Hasan as PAC Chairman to summon Arul to appear before the PAC in the shortest time possible – especially as Arul is available within 48 hours notice to have “live telecast” debate with Pua over RTM on 1MDB today if the Speaker had not stopped it.

On Oct. 27, Arul had the time to give to a MCA forum a special briefing on 1MDB and on November 14, Arul will be at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur to give a special briefing for UMNO division chiefs from all over the country on 1MDB.

Why is it not possible for Hasan to summon Arul to appear before the PAC any time in the 18 days between Oct. 27 to Nov. 14 to continue PAC investigations into 1MDB so that the PAC can present its report on 1MDB to Parliament in time for Members of Parliament from both sides of the Hosue to debate it before Parliament adjourns on Dec. 3?

This episode is the best proof that Hasan has no proper sense of urgency or priority that PAC investigations into 1MDB should be completed in the shortest time possible, a sentiment shared by Malay Rulers in their statement of Oct. 6 calling for the 1MDB investigations to be concluded in the shortest time possible and for the culprits to be punished sternly.

The ball is now in Hasan’s court.

Will Hasan expedite the stalled PAC investigations into 1MDB and call up Arul to appear before the PAC before his briefing to UMNO leaders on November 14?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah