Ministers should not be barred from answering questions in Parliament on the United States Department of Justice's (DOJ) civil suit involving the alleged misappropriation of 1MDB funds for the reason of sub judice.
This is what a former Court of Appeal judge said after Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia's ruling in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus, who retired in September last year, said the question of sub judice does not arise at all.
“This is because it is a foreign hearing. The sub judice rule applies in relation to hearing in Malaysian courts,” he told Malaysiakini.
Hishamudin was commenting on Pandikar who had stressed that ministers need not answer questions posed regarding the DOJ suit which was filed in the California courts last July.
The suit was in regard to what the DOJ described as one of the largest single action ever brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, involving approximately US$1 billion worth of assets allegedly linked to 1MDB.
"The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale (in) a scheme in which tentacles reached around the world," deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Andrew McCabe had said.
However, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had said that the DOJ action does not involve him.
Function of check and balance
Meanwhile, lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla said as the speaker Pandikar should function as a check and balance between legislature and the cabinet (executive) and if this is not done, the Federal Constitution would be weakened.
Along with the judiciary, the check and balance is necessary to avoid the abuse of power in the system of parliamentary democracy, he added.
“When Parliament began its session yesterday, Pandikar was quoted to have said lawmakers will not be allowed to debate the US DOJ's civil suits seeking forfeiture of assets linked to 1MDB as it could be sub judice.
“If the sub judice principle is now being applied, why then government agencies like the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) had called Arul Kanda from 1MDB to have talks from one institution to another. Isn't this against the principle of sub judice,” Haniff asked in a Facebook posting.
“The principle of sub judice does not apply at all as the discussion and debate on the 1MDB issue in Parliament would not have the potential to give a negative impression on the capability of the US court to make a just decision over there."
Sub judice is a latin term meaning "under judgment", which means that a particular case or matter is under trial or being considered by a judge or court.
Haniff urged the government and its co-conspirators not to cheat and confuse the public further as the people are already "fed up and bored" by the cabinet and the speaker.
“Remember Pandikar, that you took the oath to follow the constitution. Hence you should not cheat the constitution.
“Remember that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Haniff said, quoting the sacred words of Lord Acton, a 19th century English historian and politician. -Mkini