The Dewan Rakyat Speaker acted against the Federal Constitution in disallowing the government from replying to queries by MPs on the US Department of Justice’s suit, law expert Abdul Aziz Bari said.
Aziz said in a parliamentary democracy like Malaysia, the executive (Cabinet) was answerable to the legislature (Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara).
“This is very clear under Article 43 which states that the Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to Parliament, but the Speaker’s conduct is a stumbling block in how the Dewan Rakyat functions.”
Aziz said this in response to Pandikar Amin Mulia’s approval that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said need not answer questions regarding the DoJ’s action to recover assets relating to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The Speaker, who is also trained in law, said the sub judice rule applied as the matter was before a court in the United States.
However, lawyers have rebuted Pandikar, claiming that the government could provide answers to queries by MPs as any discussions here had no effect in the US.
Aziz said it was unfortunate that the Speaker had abused his absolute power to protect Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government.
“Such powers are given to the Speaker to allow him to conduct the daily business of the house in an orderly manner and not protect the Najib-led Cabinet from being held accountable to elected MPs.”
Aziz said the Speaker had undermined the political system as the people, through their MPs, could not get satisfactory answers from the government.
He said in Malaysia voters did not directly elect a prime minister to govern the nation but their representatives to the Dewan Rakyat.
Aziz said the prime minister was only appointed later by the king who made a judgment call to pick one who commands the confidence of the majority of MPs.
“So the Speaker must ensure the government is answerable to the will of the people through questions raised by their MPs.”
Aziz said in the United Kingdom, the level of accountability was high as the prime minister has to personally answer questions from MPs once a week when the legislature was in session.