Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gobind sues Speaker over suspension - Malaysian Insider

Gobind holds the papers which he filed. With him are Karpal and MPs from the DAP and PKR. — Picture by Choo Choy May

By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo filed a suit against Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia in the KL High Court today over his one-year suspension from Parliament.

Taking advantage of the Federal Court decision last week which allowed a challenge by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his excos against their suspension from the state assemby by the Speaker, Gobind is also suing the government, the House secretary and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz.

He claims the Speaker's decision has put his status as an elected representative in "limbo". “I don’t know to what extent the Speaker’s decision covers,” he told reporters after paying the RM108 court fee required to file his suit.

Pointing to an official letter from Parliament telling him of his “suspension from duty as a Member of Parliament”, Gobind noted it was not unusual for an MP to be suspended from taking part in proceedings inside the House, but questioned whether he could be “suspended as an MP”.

“If I’m suspended as an MP, how does that work? Where does that leave me?” he asked.

Gobind stressed the matter is of public interest because “the issue is whether or not Parliament has unlimited powers”, especially to impose punishments which restrict an elected representative’s ability to act independently in the interest of the public.

He noted that the present situation appears to discourage MPs from speaking their minds fearlessly.

“To speak without fear or favour, these are concepts that precede a democracy,” he said.

The first-term national lawmaker is challenging the Speaker’s decision to suspend him on three grounds: that he was not given a chance to defend himself inside Parliament before a motion was passed to suspend him; that the Speaker’s decision is unconstitutional and “smacks of inequality” before the law; and the third deals specifically with the pay and other monetary allowances and privileges owed an MP under the Federal Constitution.

Gobind, who was accompanied by his father and DAP chairman Karpal Singh,wants the court to overturn the Speaker’s decision which not only bars him from taking part in all Parliament sessions for the 12 months from March 16, but also cuts him off from receiving the allowances and benefits provided for all MPs under the law.

He also filed a notice of urgency with his suit today as he hopes the court will decide in his favour allowing him to return to Parliament when the next sitting resumes.

Gobind was suspended after an outburst inside Parliament involving Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The fiery MP had allegedly linked the then deputy premier to a highly sensationalised murder case involving Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, whose remains were found in a jungle clearing in Shah Alam three years ago.

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