Report by the Sun today:-
More bite to tackle power abuse
Tan Yi LiangKUALA LUMPUR (Sept 21, 2008) : The Selangor state government will be drafting an Act and amending its Standing Orders to give its State Assembly and committees more bite in compelling witnesses to testify against power abusers.
Its Speaker Teng Chang Khim told theSun today: "We are drafting An Act and amending the Standing Orders (to compel witnesses to give testimony). The moves are in response to difficulties causing delays in investigations into the Wives of Selangor State Assemblymen and MPs Charity and Welfare Organisation (Balkis).
"We intend to hold a public inquiry, which is what we have been entrusted to do. However, there are some obstacles in compelling some witnesses to appear before us. We are dealing with this either by enacting laws and amending the Standing Orders, to facilitate public inquiries."
Investigations into Balkis are being conducted by the Special Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat). It has called five meetings and collected evidence since May," he added.
Teng said the proposed actions would deal with more than just the Balkis investigations."We are not just thinking of this Balkis matter. We are also thinking of the future, if there is a need to call any officer or the public, there will be something that can compel them to come.
Within days after the Barisan Nasional (BN) lost control of Selangor, the wives of the former BN assemblymen transferred about RM10 million of funds belonging to Balkis to Bakti, the federal version of Balkis.
Teng, who is Sungai Pinang assemblyman, said: "Currently, the State Constitution gives the Assembly or its committees the powers to call any witnesses to appear, but there is no penalty that can be imposed if anyone refuses.
"Various models are being studied for the Selangor government. We are actually looking at the UK and US models to study how witnesses can be compelled to appear and testify, and run a public inquiry in the presence of the press."
Teng urged the public to be patient with the state government in handling the probe into Balkis."
This is the first time in Malaysia that a public inquiry will be held to investigate matters which relate to a state administration. So we have to lay the groundwork and make a proper start so that others can emulate," said Teng, adding that the inquiry would be held early next year if "everything goes smoothly".
"There are a few factors that have to be readied, such as getting the laws done, and gathering enough evidence to hold such an inquiry," said Teng, who also spoke on the recent detention of Kinrara assemblyman Teresa Kok under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
"In the last sitting, the State Assembly passed a motion urging the government to release all ISA detainees and the abolition of the ISA as it is against human rights. I believe that in our next sitting in October, our assemblymen will take further action on this issue," said Teng, who pointed out that Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M.Manoharan is still held under the ISA.
Teng said it was up to the assemblymen to decide whether action should be taken against former Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo for stirring up rumours which resulted in Kok's one-week detention.
"They should table a motion and let it be be debated by the assembly. If anyone feels that Khir Toyo should be disciplined, they should make the move. There is nothing to stop them from moving anything," said Teng.