Prisons Department says no to Anwar attending parliament

Anwar Ibrahim

(The Malaysian Insider) – The Prisons Department will not allow Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to attend the month-long parliament meeting starting on Monday, according to the ruling BN Backbenchers Club (BNBBC).

In a post today, the website reported that the department had rejected the application put in by Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar for Anwar to attend the month-long meeting starting on Monday.

The BNBBC said the opposition leader’s application was rejected on the grounds that the prison was bound by prison procedures.

The website reported that the Prisons department had notified Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia about its decision.

Anwar’s lawyer had written a letter to Home  Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on February 25 to instruct the prisons department to escort Anwar to attend the sitting on Monday.

However, Ahmad Zahid had said on Monday that only the Pardons Board, attorney-general and the speaker had the final say whether Anwar could attend Parliament.

“Zahid’s statement is shocking, incomprehensible and a direct contradiction of the Prisons Act 1995,” they said.

They had referred to Section 13(1) of the Prisons Act which states that the Prisons director-general “shall be responsible” to the minister for the due observance of the provisions of the law.

The lawyers also criticised Ahmad Zahid’s suggestion that the Pardons Board be allowed to make a decision first, saying that if the Pardons Board made a decision one way or the other, the issue of bringing Anwar to Parliament from prison would not arise at all.

They also decried Ahmad Zahid’s move in responding to their request for Anwar to attend the sitting through the media instead of replying to them directly.

Today former attorney-general Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman said  no one had the legal authority to direct the prison authorities to produce Anwar in parliament.

The government’s former legal adviser further said neither the Dewan Rakyat speaker nor the home minister have the legal clout to order that Anwar be produced in parliament.

“I don’t think the law has been amended to allow the speaker and the minister to order that a convicted MP attend proceedings,” he said.