by Martin Jalleh
APRIL 15 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz acts tough, talks big and throws his weight around. He thinks he is very smart and knows everything! After all, he is also the minister in charge of parliamentary affairs and the de facto law minister.
Those who refuse to tolerate Nazri’s nonsense have to contend with his temper tantrums and theatrics. Apart from his childish threats and taunts, the Minister has become adept through the years with turning and twisting the truth whilst calling others liars.
It was typical of him to accuse Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand of being a liar: “She lied in the inquest and she is lying now”. Dr Pornthip has claimed that Putrajaya has exercised “political pressure” which “could affect her work” in Southern Thailand thereby forcing her to pull out from testifying in the on-going Teoh Beng Hock inquest.
It is indeed ironic that the minister should be so quick to accuse others of lying, for when it comes to telling lies no one has left such an indelible mark on Malaysian politics than Nazri Aziz.
Below are some examples of him lying (intentionally or unintentionally) especially in Parliament!
In May 2004 Nazri bluffed Parliament that Suhakam’s annual report was never meant to be debated in Parliament. The truth is that 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.
In April 2005, Nazri tried to fool Parliament by claiming that the “Cabinet’s plan to form a select committee on water privatisation was dropped because the King wanted water privatisation to be in place by the end of the year”. Lim Kit Siang told Nazri not to drag the King into the issue and that “…the Royal address is the policy pronouncement of the government of the day”.
In the same month, Nazri came up with a tall tale that “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, April 13, 2005). A week later the then-prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that there was no such ban.
In June 2006 Nazri misled parliament into believing that 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 (for) the case has been investigated by the Government, the ACA and the AG” (Star, June 28, 2006). The judge who resigned in 1996, wrote a 33-page letter highlighting corruption, abuse of power and personal misconduct in the judiciary.
Contrary to what Nazri had claimed, Syed Idid in a NST interview (June 11, 2006) revealed that the allegations were “never really investigated”. This was confirmed by a former Attorney-General, Abu Talib Othman (Mingguan Malaysia, June 4, 2006) who added that “on the other hand, the poor judge who wrote it was investigated”.
In July 2006, Nazri conveyed a false sense of security in Sabah when he told parliament that the presence of foreigners, including those with IMM13 documents, do not cause social, security and economic problems in Sabah. A leader of the Sabah Progressive Party (then a member of BN) said “it would be better for him (Nazri) to keep his mouth shut”.
In May 2007, Bernard Dompok, another Minister in the PM’s Department, resigned as chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity because he disagreed with Nazri over the committee’s scope of duties. Nazri tried to explain away the resignation by saying that Dompok was influenced by Lim Kit Siang. Dompok’s reply to his colleague was: “It’s a cheap shot!”
On Aug 21, 2007, after opening a seminar on the thoughts and academic works of the late Tan Sri Ahmad Ibrahim, the then Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmad Fairuz in a press conference advocated the abolition of the English common law system. Nazri denied on behalf of Fairuz, in Parliament, that the latter had made such a proposal. Lim Kit Siang released a newspaper tape transcript as proof that Nazri was lying on behalf of Fairuz!
When the country did not have a Chief Judge for eight months Nazri created the wrong impression that the Chief Justice can act as the Chief Judge of Malaya. He challenged his critics: “Show me where it says, either in the Constitution or elsewhere, that it cannot be done” (Star, Aug 19, 2007).
The Bar Council showed him that provisions in the Constitution state that the posts of Chief Justice and Chief Judge of Malaya are independent of one another and therefore if read together with the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, the CJ should appoint a Federal Court Judge to act as the Chief Judge of Malaya!
On Sept 25, 2007, about two thousand lawyers, defying police, marched from the Palace of Justice to the PM’s office in Putrajaya to hand over a memorandum calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe the brokering of the appointment of judges and to establish an independent commission for the appointment of judges.
The “Minister for the Chief Justice” (as Nazri described himself!) preferred to lie to himself and to the whole nation as to the state of the judiciary: “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.”
Conman of Parliament
In October 2007, Anwar Ibrahim who had made public the Lingam video clip said that the source of the clip would come forward only if there was a setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry instead of an independent panel, as such a panel would not be able to provide protection to the whistleblower.
Nazri gave the assurance that the person or persons who took the video had no reason not to co-operate. He said “a new identity or even new look can be arranged”. Such measures were defined under “the Witness Protection Bill tabled recently in Parliament” (Star, Oct 8, 2007). He later admitted there was no such bill!
In May 2008, Nazri told Parliament that the Election Commission (EC) was to be blamed for the last-minute decision to cancel the use of indelible ink in the March polls. This was far from the truth because the EC chairman had unwittingly revealed that the cabinet had objected to the use of the indelible ink and that he was ordered to take the blame for the decision!
In November 2008, Nazri told Parliament that former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and other senior judges involved in the judicial crisis in 1988 were not “sacked” but were asked to “retire early”. Karpal Singh insisted that action be taken against Nazri for allegedly lying to the House.
Nazri, in a press conference, claimed that he had made a mistake, adding he had no intention of misleading the House. But he refused to explain or apologise to Parliament. Telling the press would suffice! For the first time, a press conference took precedence over Parliament! And, of course, Nazri got off scot free again!
On Nov 9, 2009, Nazri sparked an uproar in Parliament when he said “judiciary fixer” VK Lingam had been let off the hook “because he had broken no law”…as he might “have just acted to fix the appointment of judges as if he was brokering the appointment of senior judges to impress people”.
“I am not denying that it was Lingam in the tape. But I am also saying that there are a lot of conmen in this world. Who knows he might have just acted when he was calling the so-called judges to impress,” he said.
Nazri continued on his charade by declaring that he would persuade the AG to engage Karpal Singh to prosecute Lingam! The AG declined and the issue is now history! Can there be a bigger conman in Parliament than Nazri?
The truth that Nazri could not twist or turn is that the Royal Commission of Inquiry had found sufficient reason for the relevant authorities to take appropriate action against those implicated for breaches of the Sedition Act, the Penal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Legal Profession Act and other laws.
In January this year, Nazri implicitly placed the blame of the aftermath of the court decision on the Allah case on the Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam. He said it was too late for a dialogue and that the court is the only way to bring an end to the “Allah” debate.
He claimed that his Cabinet colleagues, including fellow Minister in the PM’s Department Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, have been “pushing to bring religious leaders to the table to settle the simmering stew” and it was “the failure of the ‘rundingan’ (consultations) that resulted in the matter being brought to court”.
“It’s not the fault of the government. Let it be known that it was Tan Sri Pakiam, not the government, who brought the matter to court,” Nazri added (The Malaysian Insider, Jan 18, 2010). There was, in reality, no “rundingan” since the Allah controversy began with only the rude and ridiculous dictates of the then home minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.
In March this year, in the course of the verbal war in Parliament over APCO Worldwide and the government’s decision to refer Anwar to the Parliament’s Rights and Privileges Committee, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PKR-Machang) said that Nazri should also be referred to the committee for misleading the House last year.
Nazri had used a repealed law in his speech when winding up the debates on the 2010 Budget touching on the oil royalty issue requested by the Kelantan state government. Saifuddin pointed out that Nazri “being the minister in charge of laws... knew it cannot be used but he continued doing it. This is clearly an act of misleading the House”.
Nazri replied that whatever he said in the House was never with an intention to mislead the MPs. (Sounds familiar?) As an “anak jantan” (one who is brave), he was willing to be investigated (The Sun, March 22, 2010).
Nazri is really a coward. He knows he can hide behind the Speaker and his deputies who will “protect” and give him all the leeway to lie and get away with it — surely the examples above are proof enough!
On April Fool’s Day this year, it was reported that Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has urged government information officers to be more aggressive in countering “lies” spread by the opposition against the government so that the people will receive correct information.
Instead of taking the rakyat for a ride and getting all riled up over lies supposedly spread by the Opposition, Rais should do a “post-mortem” and get his own house in order, beginning with the Prime Minister’s Department!
Nazri will one day leave behind a legacy of lies!