By Board of Governor Member, Datuk Simon Lim Seng Chai on the Rejection of 1MDB-related Questions in the Dewan Rakyat
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The rejection of over 30 questions related to 1MDB in the Dewan Rakyat recently has raised troubling questions over the Legislature's sacred role as an avenue for taxpayers to get answers on matters of public importance. The sanctity of this function in Parliament cannot be overstated as each day's sitting begin with the Question and Answer session.

If MPs cannot ask valid, legal questions of public interests to the Executive in the August House, where else can they seek answers from? Giving clear and quality answers in the Legislature is part of a vibrant and matured democracy. This is also crucial in enhancing transparency, a value which CENBET advocates. In fact, dodging questions or giving half-baked replies only fuels unnecessary speculations and is an affront to Parliamentary democracy.

So long as the questions are valid and legal, the Executive should never shy away from answering them. On questions surrounding 1MDB, the Dewan Rakyat would have been a legitimate avenue for the Cabinet and various agencies to set the record straight, amid mounting bad press. In fact, if the issues are properly addressed in the oral or written replies, the government can turn the tide of unfavourable publicity.

The Dewan Rakyat's reasons for rejecting some of the 1MDB-related questions also need further clarification e.g. citing sub judice for court cases taking place in another country. The Standing Order in Parliament should not be abused, as it risks turning Question Time into Pick-and-choose Question Time.

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