Lawmakers are free to speak their minds in Parliament, but it is up to the courts to decide if their remarks had breached their status of immunity.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia told Hanipa Maidin (Amanah – Sepang) that it was not the Speaker's job to interpret the Federal Constitution with regards to parliamentary immunity.

"If there are other MPs who agree with Sepang (Hanipa) that the immunity given to lawmakers should be upheld, let the court make the pronouncement.

"My job is to chair the meetings, ensure order in the Dewan and that the Standing Orders are adhered to, although we can agree to disagree sometimes," he said just before the resumption of debates on the Budget 2017 in the Dewan Tuesday.

Pandikar and Hanipa were referring to former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was called to give a police statement over a possible breach of secrecy when he allegedly revealed Cabinet meeting discussions pertaining to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in his Budget debate speech last month.

Muhyiddin is one of three former ministers alleged to have done so during their speeches in Parliament – the other two are former second finance minister and Tambun MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah and former rural and regional development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Hanipa had raised in the Dewan that under Section 7 of the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952, Members of Parliament are given immunity from criminal charges and investigations even if they bring up Official Secrets within Parliament.

"I ask the Speaker to write to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, and urge him to not haul up MPs to give statements over what they say in Parliament," he said, adding that he did not find any seditious elements in their speeches.

"This is an issue that touches all MPs, and so I ask the Speaker to protect our expressions in Parliament," he said.

Pandikar however observed that all three MPs had not been stopped when they were speaking in Parliament.

He did acknowledge that there were some who believed their speeches contravened the Sedition Act and also the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

He said police have taken their statements and the statements handed to the authorities like the Attorney General to consider if it was against these laws.

"If they were, the AG can take it to court for a final verdict if the three MPs had gone beyond their Parliamentary immunity and were against the laws," he said.

He also urged Hanipa to "let the due process take place" and if no offence was committed, there would be "nothing to worry".

"I imagine all three MPs will be represented by excellent lawyers…if they are in the clear there should be nothing to worry about," he said.

Source -The Star Online-

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