THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, has a very long tradition of treating parliament as his personal playground where he proudly leaves a trail of his political pooh behind.
Nazri acts tough, talks and thinks as though he is the PM, or he knows everything, threatens and taunts those who stand up to him, throws a tantrum together with some theatrics when things don't go his way.
Past and present Speakers or their deputies have always given the Minister full and free access to the House to go into a fit or a frolic or to flaunt his foolishness according to his whim and fancy.
Nazri's rewriting of history on 6 Nov. 2008 adds to the list of growing examples of the Minister treating the House as a place where he "play-plays" by being provocative and pokes fun at serious issues.
He told Parliament that former Lord President Salleh Abas and other senior judges involved in the judicial crisis 20 years ago were not "sacked" but had their "services terminated early". Yet, in Sept. 2006 he had himself taken part in a '1988 Judicial Crisis - To review or not?' forum attended by 1,000 people who had heard him defend the sacking of the judges!
Karpal Singh insisted that action be taken against Nazri for allegedly lying to the House. The latter in a press conference conceded making a mistake, adding he had no intention of misleading the House. But Nazri refused to explain in nor apologise to Parliament, where he first made his infamous revelation. Telling the press would suffice! For the first time, a press conference took precedence over Parliament!Karpal persisted. Deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi waved his wand and everything was back to square one. Gobind Singh told Wan that his decision was very wanting. He got suspended for two days. Nazri get off scot-free – to nurture more nonsense.
Nazri said Gobind was suspended "because he challenged the decision of the speaker. The reason why you don't see us (BN MPs) get suspended is because we don't go against the decision of the speaker". Since when has the Speaker decided against a BN MP over a controversial issue?
Nazri has many fans and followers amongst the BN MPs, the latest being Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Umno-Pasir Salak) whose sexual innuendo remarks in parliament were recently revealed and who called a DAP MP "bloody bastard" but escaped punishment (rings a bell?).
A glance at Nazri's track record and tales (in italics) – a major part of which I have highlighted before and condensed here below – will show that the Minister overseeing parliamentary affairs has in fact in the recent past mislead and made a mockery of Parliament, with the Chair condoning his monkeying around.
2004: Nazri Bulls and Blunders
May: Suhakam's report is never meant to be debated in Parliament. Nazri was wrong. It is a legislative requirement for Suhakam, a creation of Parliament, to submit annual reports to Parliament so that its findings can be debated and its recommendations deliberated on.
2005: Nazri Bluffs and Bullies
April: The Cabinet's plan to form a select committee on water privatization was dropped because the King wanted water privatisation to be in place by the end of the year. Lim Kit Siang (LKS) told Nazri not to drag the King into the issue and added that "…the Royal address is the policy pronouncement of the government of the day".
April: Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia cannot be circulated in the country as this could be seen as an effort to spread Christianity among the Malays….the prohibition had been in force since Independence and was in line with the Constitution (Star, 13.04.05). A week later the PM said that there was no such ban.
June: Nazri shouted racist and bloody racist at DAP MP M Kula Segaran 41 times. His "racist" fit which the then Speaker deemed fit to allow, was intended to divert attention from a dispute involving two government backbenchers!
Sept.: If every issue raised requires a select committee, then perhaps we also need to discuss that former Communist Party of Malaya secretary-general Chin Peng is DAP's Father of Independence.— This was Nazri's childish response to LKS's suggestion of the setting-up of three new Parliamentary Select Committees.
2006: Nazri Barks and Boasts
March: Nazri branded DAP MP Teresa Kok an Islam hater after she questioned the directive that all policewomen must wear the tudung during official parades. Teresa protested. However the then Deputy Speaker merely told the minister that the remark was unnecessary.
June: Nazri told parliament: There is no basis for the allegation of corruption in the judiciary as contained in a letter written by former High Court judge Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid… the case has been investigated by the Government, the ACA and the AG.
Syed Idid replied that the allegations were "never really investigated". This was confirmed by a former AG Abu Talib Othman who added that "on the other hand, the poor judge who wrote it was investigated"!
July: The presence of foreigners, including those with IMM13 documents, does not cause social, security and economic problems in Sabah . A leader of the Sabah Progressive Party (then a part of the ruling coalition) accused Nazri of being ignorant and said "it would be better for him to keep his mouth shut…."
July: The Government is satisfied with the ACA's performance. Param Cumaraswamy a former TI Malaysia president pointed out: "It is not the satisfaction of the Government that the ACA is handling its responsibilities effectively that matters. It is the satisfaction of the public that matters most."
July: The ACA is free to act on its own. In 2003, when he (who was then Entrepreneur Development Minister) was under investigation for corruption, Nazri had said that he would advise the Cabinet to replace the then ACA Investigations Director with whom he had a war of words with!
Sept: You are just jealous because I am standing! – Nazri told wheelchair-bound Karpal Singh who had urged the Deputy Speaker to restrain the minister as he had "gone crazy" by racing through the text of his 80-page winding-up document, refusing to allow any interjections for clarification.
The Deputy Speaker later said that Nazri's remarks were "improper" – without making a ruling that the remarks be withdrawn!
2007: Nazri Goes Berserk
March: The government is not prepared to study and research current election laws or revamp the Election Commission (EC) because in the past 50 years we have not revamped any ministry. This was Nazri's response to then EC chairman's call for an independent commission to oversee changes in the election laws and regulations.
March: I think these NGOs are stupid…We don't need another system, independent inquiry and all that. Nazri dismissed calls by rights groups for an independent inquiry into the graft and sexual assault allegations against then ACA director-general Zulkipli Mat Noor
And so for the first time in the country's history we had the police investigating the (then) chief of the ACA and at the same time the ACA investigating the top police officer of the nation -- and the Attorney-General deciding later that both were clean! The whole world was laughing at the government's stupidity.
April: Its like ants attracted to sugar… Malaysians leave to make money but they will return. You don't have to press the panic button yet. This was Nazri's response to LKS's concern over the alarming migration trend. He forgot that his boss had in 2004 offered a host of incentives to lure an estimated 30,000 of Malaysia 's graduates working overseas to return home. Pak Lah panicked?
May: Bernard Dompok's resignation was influenced by Lim Kit Siang. Dompok resigned as the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity because he had disagreed with Nazri over the committee's scope of duties. Dompok's reply to his colleague: "It's a cheap shot!"
May: "…they should not apologise to Fong or the DAP for their remarks. – Nazri came to the defence of the two MPs who had made sexist remarks following Fong Po Kuan's observations of leaks in the Parliament building.
June: Singapore is not a real country, it is a small island. Singapore's population is just three to four million and there are no opportunities for corruption, unlike in our country. Nazri's inference of larger countries being more prone to corruption and smaller countries being less corrupt was wrong.
June: Malaysia will never develop as long as we have people like Lim (Kit Siang). All these (corruption allegations) are lies. Why are you so stupid? Where are the allegations? You have no brains. Stupid, stupid, stupid…! Nazri turned nasty in a heated exchange with LKS.
The then Speaker said that he could not cite Nazri for using unparliamentary language because "such language was used all the time". Grinning like a school bully having his last say, Nazri added to his string of "stupid" salvoes: OK, tidak cerdik (not smart) then. It's like stupid too.
Aug.: The then Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmad Fairuz had advocated the abolition of Common Law, and replacing it with an Islamic legal system. Nazri denied on behalf of Fairuz, in Parliament, that Fairuz had made such a proposal. LKS provided Nazri with a newspaper tape transcript as proof. He played down its significance, claiming that the CJ was pressed by reporters to offer his opinion!
Aug.: When Karpal Singh revealed the name of a Federal Court judge who had not written judgments in as many as 35 cases (in response to the then CJ's challenge to show proof) Nazri declared: the writing of judgments was not the only criterion to promote judges"!
Aug: When the country did not have a Chief Judge for eight months, Nazri insisted that there is no law that says the Chief Justice cannot act as the Chief Judge of Malaya ". The Bar Council showed him that he was wrong!Aug.: There's no need for such a judicial commission (in charge of judicial appointments) as there is no crisis in our judiciary…No crisis, no problems. I don't see any scandal. These are all efforts by the opposition to create distrust and erode public confidence in the judiciary. This was in sharp contrast to Sultan Azlan Shah, who later expressed his grave concern over the "disquiet" about and "serious criticisms" against the judiciary at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference.
Sept.: …the lawyers' march was "unbecoming". (On 26th Sept. 2,000 lawyers walked to Putrajaya to submit a memorandum on judicial reform to the PM.) It was in sharp contrast to Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan's statement: "We are walking for justice, we want judicial reform. Lawyers don't walk every day. When lawyers walk, something is wrong."
Oct.: Whistleblowers in the Lingam Tape scandal could be protected under the Witness Protection Bill tabled recently in Parliament.— Nazri later admitted there was no such bill and blamed his press secretary for failing to issue a clarification to the media!
Nov.: …it would be pointless to try and understand the reason behind the rally as the brains of opposition members do not function well…the wires in their heads are severed. I don't understand why they claim that the EC is unfair.
Nazri was commenting on the march on 10 Nov. of 40,000 people to submit a memorandum calling for electoral reforms to the King. Ironically, a few weeks earlier, Nazri had told opposition MPs in parliament "not to get over-excited about the 'independence' of the EC, when it does not exist.
Nov.: "Don't try to drag the King into this. The King and the people are behind us. They (the opposition) are afraid to face the next elections. If you've no courage, don't become a pondan (wimp)." If there is anyone who has tried to make use of the King it is Nazri himself (see above)!
2008: Nazri brays brazenly
May: The government did not order the commission. We merely told them there were concerns about the legal implications and it could create problems later. Nazri blamed the EC for the last-minute decision to cancel the use of indelible ink in the March polls. The then EC chairman had said it was a Cabinet decision.
Nazri also told parliament that no action would be taken against those who had lodged police reports saying that indelible ink was being smuggled into the country during the last general election…because they have believed the rumours they heard were true!
June: The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BBC) was upset with Nazri for branding it childish and gangster-like for removing a barricade at the Parliament lobby put up to ban reporters from the lobby.
I am expecting the BBC to recommend to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to sack me as a minister. If they dare not do that on Monday, then shut up and don't talk anymore – Nazri lambasted the BBC chairman.
Oct.: The government does not have a problem with setting up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) but there is "strong evidence" that certain quarters disagreed with the proposal.
Nazri was responding to LKS's query as to why the IPCMC was not established although the IGP had said that the police would agree if the government insisted on it. When a PAS MP questioned Nazri on who these "certain quarters" were, Nazri evaded the question and took a dig at PAS instead.
It is very obvious that the Minister in the PM's Department who is also the overseer of parliamentary affairs and the de facto Law Minister, is a misfit in Parliament and an unmitigated mistake to the country.
As a loudmouth and loose cannon, Nazri would no doubt take Bolehland to greater heights in hype, hypocrisy and of course, hysterics and histrionics in Parliament!
The public cannot be blamed for its increasing perception that the Speaker and his deputies have been blind, biased, beholden to the Umno-dominated Government and begging and bending backwards to do its bidding. They have allowed Nazri to get away with impunity whilst appearing to be impartial.
Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz should be included in the posse who will mount up and ride into the sunset together with the soon-to-be-retired PM.