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Khir Toyo suspended for one year for contempt

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 19, 2009

THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

By Neville Spykerman

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Selangor Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo has been suspended for one year by the state assembly’s rights and privileges committee.

He has been suspended for his absence from the Selangor Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) inquiry into the alleged misconduct and inappropriate dealings of state charity Balkis.

Also suspended are four Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen — Marsum Paing (Dengkil), Mohamad Idris Abu Bakar (Hulu Bernam), Warno Dogol (Sabak), and Isa Abdul Kasim (Batang Kali).

The four have been suspended for six months each.

Announcing the suspensions today, Speaker Teng Chang Kim said the former mentri besar was found guilty of contempt of the assembly.

The decision to suspend the five BN men will however only take effect once it is tabled at the next assembly sitting in July. Dr Mohd Khir indicated he would challenge the decision in court.

He told The Malaysian Insider that he would wait for a formal letter informing him of his suspension before letting his lawyers study the matter.

By suspending Dr Mohd Khir, Teng and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) could open themselves to accusations of vindictiveness on their part.

Dr Mohd Khir’s administration had been frequently criticised previously for abuse of power in suspending Teng, who was then the Selangor opposition leader.

The former BN MB has also been hurling accusations of corruption against Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, while the Selcat inquiry appeared targeted at Dr Mohd Khir.

If the suspensions are challenged in court, it could result in upheaval in the state.

While the doctrine of separation of powers and constitutional provisions do not usually allow decisions of the state assembly to be subject to judicial review, recent court cases involving the BN-PR power tussle in Perak suggest judges are willing to rule over such matters.

Teng was suspended for 30 months with loss of allowances for 18 months when he was Opposition Leader during Dr Mohd Khir’s administration.

His offence — throwing a copy of the assembly’s standing orders into a bin during an assembly sitting.

“The harshest sentence in history was imposed on me.” said Teng, who is aware the decision to suspend Dr Mohd Khir will be seen as an act of revenge on his part.

He pointed out that he did not take part in the vote to suspend the five.

Under the standing orders, the Speaker only votes if there is a tie among other members of the committee.

Teng said the five lawmakers had crossed the line for claiming Selcat was a political tool.

He added BN lawmakers were also represented in the privileges committee and any allegation of unfairness was unfounded.

However BN lawmaker Wong Koon Mun did not attend today’s committee meeting while the other, Datuk Warno Dogol, is among the five who will be suspended and lost his right to vote.

Teng said the suspensions were based on previous decisions in the assembly and in the Commonwealth.

The privilege committee also took into accounts previous decision in Parliament to suspend members including Karpal Singh, Fong Po Kuan and more recently Gobind Singh Deo.

Members of the privileges committee also include Dr Shafie Abu Bakar, Gan Pei Nei and Hannah Yeoh. Amiruddin Shari was absent from the meeting today.

Meanwhile the police have taken a statement from the secretary of the state assembly in relation to a report against Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik.

The wife of Dr Mohd Khir also refused to attend the inquiry and was deemed to have committed an offence under the Contempt of House Enactment 2008.

However the police together with the Attorney-General’s chambers are responsible for investigation and prosecution.

Teng said documents pertaining to the case had been handed over to police.

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