KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was not present in Parliament Thursday to answer questions on the RM2.6bil donation deposited into his personal bank accounts.
Instead, the task was delegated to his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic), who cited Standing Order 14(1)(i) which allows statements by ministers.
Despite objections from several Opposition MPs who wanted Najib to appear in person to answer the questions, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said the Prime Minister had the right to assign someone to respond on his behalf.
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) interjected saying that the RM2.6bil issue should be answered by Najib himself, raising Standing Order 25 which allowed for a personal explanation by a Member of Parliament.
â€œStanding Order 25 states that a member may make a personal explanation on Standing Order 14. Since the issue relates to the Prime Minister directly, he should be the one to answer,â€ said Gobind.
However, Pandikar said he considered the explanation an obligation of Najib as a minister and not under his capacity as an individual MP.
“Other ministers can also answer (for the PM) because that is the House rule. After the Prime Minister, the next in line is the Deputy Prime Minister. So I allow it,â€ he said.
Asked by Gobind if MPs would be allowed to ask questions following the explanation by Dr Ahmad Zahid, Pandikar said that no debate would arise after the explanation, as per House rules.
In his five-minute explanation, Dr Ahmad Zahid reiterated the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commissionâ€™s (MACC) findings that the RM2.6bil deposited into Najibâ€™s accounts was not from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
He also said that MACC had identified the political donor and Bank Negara had been informed of the opening of the bank account that stored the funds.
He said that there were no laws prohibiting political donations, adding that a proposal by Najib to regulate political funding in 2009 was rejected by the Opposition parties.
The Deputy Prime Minister said he could not offer an elaboration on the matter as it would jeopardise ongoing investigations by the authorities.
He said he was advised by the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohd Apandi Ali not to speak publicly about the issue.