Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia should resign

By Mariam Mokhtar, Malaysian Mirror

There is no precedent of a speaker being removed against his will, so should the current Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Pandikar Amin Mulia, be asked to resign over his handling of the suspension of 4 opposition Members of Parliament?

The Speaker is responsible for maintaining not only the privileges of parliament but he should also preserve its dignity.

As the symbolic leader and highest authority in the house, Pandikar should take responsibility for his actions.

Yesterday, he did not act with impartiality but allowed parliament to descend into chaos. Significantly, he failed to uphold the principles of democracy.

On the final day of the sitting of the Dewan Rakyat, the speaker failed us because he did not defend the interests of parliament.

Events in the Dewan Rakyat were focused on Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and his APCO issue.

In a speech to Parliament earlier this year, Anwar had chided Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak for appointing APCO and paying it exorbitant fees even though the firm’s top management had clear links to the Israeli secret service. Anwar’s conspiracy theory portrayed Jewish control, Zionist plots, and subversion in Malaysia.

At a press conference called by Karpal Singh and R. Sivarasa on 3 December, it was disclosed that the Parliament’s Rights and Privileges Committee had pushed for Anwar’s suspension without hearing his defence on his allegations about US-based consultancy APCO.

Karpal, who is a member of the powerful committee, said that the meeting was called without any fixed agenda. Both he and Sivarasa had left in protest and they had no idea what then transpired.

Also present at the press conference was Anwar who described the process as “totally outrageous”. He said, “When I was referred to the committee, the speaker had promised a proper hearing where documents will be presented, and I will be able to defend myself”.

Anwar then showed the Parliament Hansard dated April 22, where Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang had raised the issue. The Speaker was quoted as saying, “We will call anyone who is needed and documents will be tabled. The committee will then make its recommendation and decide on the proper punishment.”

Ambiga Sreenevasam, Anwar’s lawyer, said that Parliament had acted against the rule of natural justice by having the Committee meet without calling Anwar. She said, “This has never happened before in courts where a person is at least given his right to defend himself, but this was not done”.

“In my view the Rights and Privileges Committee has abdicated from its responsibilities,” said Karpal.

Yesterday’s final sitting of parliament only confirmed earlier rumours that Anwar would be suspended.

When Karpal accused Pandikar of having “lost the moral authority” to sit as speaker, pandemonium broke out in parliament. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz had been asked by the Speaker to go ahead and table the motion against Anwar.

Karpal charged the Speaker with having a conflict of interest because he also chaired the Rights and Privileges Committee that recommended the suspension of Anwar.

There were chaotic scenes when the Speaker explained that his position as the chairman of the Committee did not contain any role in the decision-making process or voting.

In a move that was designed to further antogonise the opposition benches, Pandikar had apparently muted the microphones of the opposition. This only enraged the opposition that they responded with shouts and the waving of placards.