Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia continues to receive brickbats over his ruling to disallow debate on the US Department of Justice’s suit to recover assets relating to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Lawyer Syahredzan Johan said the Speaker had fundamentally misunderstood the workings of sub judice in relation to the DoJ asset forfeiture move in the United States.
“How can anything said and discussed here (Malaysia) have influence there (in the US)?” he asked in a series of tweets in response to Pandikar’s decision on Monday.
He said the suit and the 1MDB issue should be discussed in the Dewan Rakyat as it was a national issue because public funds had been misused.
The lawyer further said that even in Malaysia the sub judice issue was irrelevant because the courts here no longer held jury trials in criminal cases.
“Sub judice came about because there were jury trials. The whole idea is that if people talk about the case outside court, juries might be influenced,” he added.
In disallowing MPs from raising the 1MDB issue in Parliament which is currently in session, Pandikar had said the matter was sub judice because it was still being discussed in court (in the US).
He ruled that no minister needed to answer questions posed by MPs.
According to the DoJ suits, from 2009 through 2015, more than USD3.5 billion ((RM14.78 billion) in funds belonging to 1MDB had been allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates. The suits against several individuals and bodies were to recover more than USD1 billion laundered through the US and traceable to the conspiracy to cheat 1MDB.
Last December, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had refused to answer questions on the RM2.6 billion donation in Parliament, claiming his boss, Najib Razak would run foul of the sub judice rule.
At that time the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was investigating Najib over the matter, but Attorney- General Apandi Ali cleared the prime minister of any criminal offence a month later.
Meanwhile, lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla said, as head of the legislature (Dewan Rakyat), Pandikar should function as a check and balance on the Cabinet (Executive).
If not, he said, the separation of powers between the three government branches, including the judiciary, would be seriously eroded.
“If the sub judice principle is now being applied, then how is it that government agencies like the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) had called Arul Kanda from 1MDB to give talks. Is this not against the principle of sub judice?” Haniff asked in a Facebook posting.
Haniff, who now handles most of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s civil cases, urged the Government to stop confusing the public further.
He said the people were already “fed up and bored” with the Cabinet and the Speaker.
“Remember Pandikar that you took the solemn oath to uphold the Constitution. Hence you should not cheat the Constitution,” he added.