KUALA LUMPUR, 16 March 2009: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the decision of the Dewan Rakyat today to suspend the membership of Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) for one year was fair.
He said the penalty, which takes effect today, was decided after considering the offence committed by Gobind who abused his privileges as a Member of Parliament (MP) by making a serious and malicious charge against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on 12 March.
“I feel it’s a fair punishment and commensurate with the offence committed by him not only in accusing (the MP for) Pekan, but also based on his (Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s) position as the Deputy Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional (BN) chief Whip.
“We should not abuse the Dewan Rakyat debate, (but) should ask intelligent questions, questions on the country’s economy,” he told reporters at the Parliament House lobby.
Mohamed Nazri, who is also the minister responsible for Parliamentary matters, when asked whether the decision to suspend Gobind had been discussed directly with Najib, said: “I had discussed the motion with the (Dewan Rakyat) Speaker, but not with him (Najib).”
“I have the right to decide on behalf of the government. It’s not fair for me to discuss with the Deputy Prime Minister because he is involved personally. Whatever discussion (with Najib) will be perceived by the public as (Najib) influencing the government,” he said.
He said Najib’s absence during the debate on the motion today was not because he was afraid to face the MPs, but because he did not want to create a conflict of interest among the MPs.
Mohamed Nazri said Gobind was not referred to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee because the incident occurred in the House.
“If it happened outside the Dewan, the matter would be investigated. But it occurred in the Dewan in front of many Members of Parliament and recorded in the Hansard,” he said.
He said the penalty on the Puchong MP had to be taken swiftly to allay negative public perception.
“If we don’t take action the first time and instead act only on the second time, he (Gobind) will question why we did not take action when he did it the first time,” he said.
In addition, the question of an MP’s immunity did not arise in imposing a penalty when the House was in session, he said.
“We don’t have to raise the question of immunity right now because the immunity is only relevant if we insist on charging him (Gobind) in court.
“But in the House, we have the right to discuss and decide on the abuse of privileges by a Member of Parliament in the House,” he said.
When asked whether Gobind could appeal against the decision, Mohamed Nazri said the decision was final.
Meanwhile when met at the Parliament House lobby, Gobind said he was disappointed over the decision made as he was not allowed to defend himself and give an explanation.
“I’m most disappointed with the conduct of the House. As we all saw many allegations against me, the motion moved against me to suspend me for 12 months and when I stood up to respond in my defence, I was shot down.
“I merely wanted to say that I did not make the allegation behind (the MP of) Pekan’s back. I asked in front (of him) to seek clarification. However, I will continue to serve in my constituency,” he added. – Bernama
See also: Gobind suspended from Parliament