Media Statement by Pakatan Rakyat Public Accounts Committee Members in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 19 June 2014
The NFC report was completed by the previous Public Accounts Committee (PAC), of which I was a member, before the 13th general election more than a year ago. The NFC scandal involves a RM250 million soft loan given by the federal government to the family members of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the current Wanita Umno chief.
The final report was subsequently endorsed and submitted by the current PAC line-up to the Parliament speaker in November last year to be tabled in the House. However, the speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia has referred the matter to Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail who blocked the tabling of the report on the basis that “it will be sub judice”.
The above was disclosed by the PAC Chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan last week in a press conference.
The sub judice rule regulates the publication of matters which are under consideration by the court. Matters are considered to be sub judice (Latin for 'under judgment') once legal proceedings become active.
In this case, the Report has been deemed sub judice in relation to NFC executive chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh who is facing two counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) amounting to RM 49.7 million at the High Court. The much-delayed case has been going on since 2012.
However it is clear to us that the PAC report, while dealing with the issue of the RM250 million NFC scandal, does not deal with the CBT case involving Datuk Seri Mohammed Salleh. The members of the PAC has been mindful to avoid interfering with the judicial process and were fully aware that any matters relating to the case at the Courts will result in the PAC report being cold-storaged. Hence, despite the interest involved, the PAC did not even delve into the performance and financial affairs of the NFC group of companies.
In fact, Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh did not even testify at the PAC meetings citing court confidentiality as well as to prevent his testimony from being prejudicial to his criminal case.
Therefore, the NFC Report should not be blocked from being tabled in Parliament because it dealt not with the on-going criminal case, but with the processes and conduct of the relevant Government Ministries in both the approval as well as the monitoring of the project.
In the UK and Canada’s Parliament, it has been adopted that the imposition of the sub judice convention should be done with discretion and, when there was any doubt in the mind of the Chair, a presumption should exist in favour of allowing debate and against the application of the convention.
We fear that the sub judice convention is being abused as an excuse to prevent material evidence on other individuals involved in the scandal from being exposed to the public.
The PAC’s NFC Report contains evidence on Ministers’ involvement in the approval process, the failure of senior Government officials at both the Ministry of Agriculture and Finance as well as their complicity and negligence in the monitoring and management of RM250 million NFC project. The Report also recommended urgent actions to be taken against some of these implicated officers, while others should be further investigated.
However, with the AG blocking the report from being made public, these officers will escape scott free from the part they have played in the failed project and the loss of RM250 million of tax-payers’ monies.
We call upon the Speaker to exercise his discretion in the interest of justice and the people to approve the immediate tabling of the NFC report. Doing so will send a strong message to the rakyat that the Parliament is serious about clamping down on the abuses of power, criminal negligence as well as punishing those who are guilty in giving a bad name to the Government.
Kamarul Bahrin Abbas