Updated with correction at 7.05pm on 15 July 2009
[Corrected] SHAH ALAM, 15 July 2009: Seventeen opposition assemblypersons from Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo walked out of the state assembly sitting here today.
The walk-out was in protest against the motion to pass the penalty agreed upon by the state assembly’s Rights and Privileges Committee on Mohamad Khir and four other BN assemblypersons. The four are Datuk Marsum Paing (Dengkil), Datuk Warno Dogol (Sabak), Mohd Isa Abu Kasim (Batang Kali) and Datuk Mohamed Idris Abu Bakr (Hulu Bernam).
Three BN assemblypersons were not present at the sitting today. They were Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil (Sementa), Datuk Mohamad Hatim Diman (Sri Serdang) and Mohamed Idris.
The committee had earlier proposed that Mohamad Khir be suspended from attending the state assembly sitting for one year because he failed to attend the public inquiry by the Special Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) on the Selangor State Assemblyperson’s Wives Welfare Organisation (Balkis). The committee had also proposed that Mohamad Khir’s allowance be suspended for one year.
For the other four BN assemblypersons, it was proposed that they be suspended from attending the state assembly sitting for six months and their allowances would also be suspended for six months, as they were found to be in contempt of the Selcat inquiry.
In his speech during the debate on the proposal before walking out of the house, Mohamad Khir said the motion aimed to silence the opposition (BN) in the house, despite Pakatan Rakyat’s claims to practise principles of openness.
He said although Selcat and the Rights and Privileges Committee were under the state assembly, his offence of not attending Selcat’s public inquiry and the statements on Selcat made by his colleagues to the media should not be considered as contempt of the house.
He said this was because the term “Dewan” under Article 77 of the Selangor State Constitution 1959 was referring to “a sitting assembly” whereas the hearing by Selcat and the statements issued by the BN assemblypersons were outside the state assembly sitting.
Mohamad Khir also questioned why there was a public inquiry on the Balkis issue when the non-governmental organisation came under the jurisdiction of the Registrar of Societies and not the state government.
He also questioned why he should be called to attend the inquiry when he was not a Balkis member.
He also said there was a conflict of interest for state assembly speaker, Teng Chang Khim, in the issue because he chaired Selcat as well as the Rights and Privileges Committee.
Lau Weng San (DAP-Kampung Tunku), who tabled the motion, later interjected that Teng did not vote in the suspension of Mohamad Khir and his colleagues.
However, Mohamad Khir said although Teng did not vote, he had taken part in the process when he and his lawyer were called up to give statements to the Rights and Privileges Committee.
He said Teng should not have participated in the committee’s proceedings. He added that the dialogue between Teng and his lawyer had been recorded verbatim and asked Lau to look at the record.
Mohamad Khir cited as an example the case of the Puchong Member of Parliament, Gobind Singh Deo. He said Gobind was suspended for one year after being found guilty of contempt of the Dewan Rakyat and the speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, who did not participate in the investigating committee.
“[The decision by the] Rights and Privileges Committee is invalid, tainted, malicious. The opposition (BN) does not want to be involved in a decision that is tainted, prejudicial and mala fide …,” Mohamad Khir said before concluding his debate and walking out.
Later at a press conference, Mohamad Khir said the BN did not want to participate in a debate on the motion whose validity was disputed.
He said three lawyers were monitoring the debate today to determine the type of legal action that could be taken against Teng or the Rights and Privileges Committee.
Mohamad Khir also said that he and his four colleagues would go on a road show throughout the state to explain their suspension and the story behind it.
The state assembly later passed the suspension on Mohamad Khir and the four BN assemblypersons. Teng said Mohamad Khir would not be able to challenge the validity of his suspension in court because it would be against the Federal Constitution.
“According to Article 72 (1) of the Federal Constitution, the validity of any proceedings in the legislative assembly of any state shall not be questioned in any court.
“Article 72 (2) of the Federal Constitution also says that no person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him when taking part in proceedings of the legislative assembly of any state or of any committed thereof,” he said. — Bernama