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Anti-climax as DPM wraps up RM2.6b explanation in 3 mins

Zikri Kamarulzaman  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Anticipation had been building over the weeks that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak would answer the RM2.6 billion issue in Parliament.

However, this turned out to be an anti-climax today.

It was not the prime minister but rather his newly-appointed number two, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who addressed the matter.

And the deputy prime minister wrapped-up his explanation within three minutes.

Zahid stood up about 11.30am to answer the issue and cited Standing Order 14 (1) (I).

DAP's Puchong MP Gobind Singh protested, arguing that Najib should answer the issue himself as it is a personal matter.

"This must be answered by Najib, not by the deputy prime minister. We should be able to ask him questions," Gobind said, and urged speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to make a ruling.

However, the speaker shot down his demand.

Pandikar said he had given much consideration to the matter, and allowed Zahid to proceed with his statement.

"Other ministers can also answer because that is the House rule. The next in line is the deputy prime minister," he pointed out.

Then, much to the chagrin of the opposition, the speaker also disallowed questions and debates, stating it was because the explanation was being delivered under Standing Order 14 (1) (I).

Coughing repeatedly, Pandikar also signalled Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) not to interrupt the proceedings.

The speaker then allowed Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling) to address the House and MP criticised the opposition for making noise.

"If they don't want to listen to the answer, they can get out," Azeez said.

Najib's motorcade was spotted arriving at Parliament's office tower earlier in the morning.

In his explanation, Zahid noted that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed that the RM2.6 billion was a political donation and had identified the donor.

"Malaysia has no law that says political donations must be declared or to stop them.

"Others should not pretend that they don't need political donations," he said, adding that Najib had vowed to regulate political donations.

Zahid also said that efforts to regulate political donations were, however, rejected by the opposition.

LIVE REPORTS

11.53am: Gobind makes a point of order, saying that party funds must be declared through an audit.

However, Pandikar says that he can't allow this and instructs Gobind to file a motion to debate the matter instead.

The House moves on to the next motion, which is to refer Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai) to the Rights and Privileges Committee.

11.50am: Zahid ends his statement by reiterating that the prime minister has set up a council to study regulating political donations.

11.47am: Zahid reiterates that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has found that the RM2.6 billion is a donation, and has identified the donor.

He then defends the donation.

"Malaysia has no law that says political donations must be declared or to stop them.

"Others should not pretend that they don't need political donations," he says, adding that Najib has vowed to regulate political donations.

Zahid says efforts to regulate political donations were, however, rejected by the opposition.

11.45am: Pandikar coughs repeatedly as a subtle signal to stop Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) from disturbing the proceedings.

He then allows Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling) to address the House. Azeez slams the opposition for making noise about Zahid answering on behalf of Najib.

"If they don't want to listen to the answer, they can get out," he says.

Zahid gets up to begin answering

11.40am : Pandikar states that when an explanation is given under Standing Order 14 (1) (i), no question can be asked, and that there will be no debate.

11.35am : Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) interjects and says the issue should be answered by Najib himself, as it is a personal matter.

"This must be answered by Najib, not by the deputy prime minister. We should be able to ask him questions," Gobind says, and urges speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to make a ruling.

Pandikar replies that he has given much consideration to the matter and allows Zahid to proceed.

"Other ministers can also answer because that is the House rule. The next in line is the deputy prime minister," he adds.

11:33am : Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamid stands up to answer the RM2.6 billion issue, citing Standing Order 14 (1) (I).

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