By Aarthi Shankar
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof may have claimed that there was no conflict of interests when he rejected the two opposition motions to refer Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to the Rights and Privileges Committee for misleading Parliament.
But the fact remains that his 32-year-old son, Muhamad Lutfi is the DAP leader’s press secretary, hence negative public perception that the Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament was bias and partial.
The people have every right to assume that Mohammad Ariff rejected the motions tabled by the Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, to protect his son’s interests.
This is a classic example of Pakatan Harapan’s political nepotism and cronyism, the highest form of any corrupt act.
Mohammad Ariff by right should have recused himself and allow his deputy Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon from PKR, not Ngah Kor Ming of DAP, to preside over the motions tabled by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
The controversy started when Guan Eng told a sitting last August that the previous Barisan Nasional federal administration had robbed RM19.4bil of goods and services tax (GST) refunds.
However, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in its report this month found that there was no evidence to support Guan Eng’s bizarre allegation of “robbery”.
By definition, Guan Eng has misled the August House of Parliament.
But Mohammad Ariff decided otherwise when Sabri tabled the motions to refer Guan Eng to the Rights and Privileges Committee.
His decision did not go down well with the general public though with many venting their anger and frustrations in the social media.
The Speaker could have avoided all the criticisms levelled at him if only he had been more professional in handling the motions.
Being a former judge, he should have upheld the legal principle of justice to be done and seen to be done.
No one with a right mind would accept his decision to reject the motions to refer Guan Eng to the Rights and Privileges Committee.
The head of Benar Malaysia, a civil movement, Hasnah Abdul Rahman described Guan Eng’ parliamentary behaviour as “atrocious”.
“There is no excuse for such behaviour. Despite been saved by the Speaker who obviously does not deserve to mediate in the August House without fear or favour, Guan Eng will still go down in history as a parliamentarian who lies.
“He does not deserve to hold any position in the Cabinet, let alone be responsible for the country’s finances,” blasted Hasnah.
Despite having video proof, the parliamentary Hansard and social media posts reporting on his lies about the goods and services tax (GST) that the funds had gone missing and stolen by the previous government, she said “LGE got away scot-free. But not in our memory.”
It’s not an overstatement to suggest that Hasnah was among millions who felt the same against Guan Eng and Mohammad Ariff.
It reflects badly on Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s government.
As Hasnah said: “There was nothing more historical than the fact the Finance Minister would lie through his teeth and gets away with it. Only in the Pakatan Harapan government.”
But Mohammad Ariff seems to be careless about public sentiments, in the process, reckless in his decision.
Perhaps to him, his son’s political career was more important and crucial for the country and nation-building than the dignity and integrity of the government of the day?