Monday, March 16, 2009

Malaysian MP suspended

Mr Gobind (left), stunned the lower house of Parliament on Thursday with a tirade against Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is scheduled to become premier in early April. -- PHOTO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S parliament on Monday barred an opposition lawmaker for one year after he accused incoming premier Najib Razak of involvement in a sensational murder case.

A government motion calling for the suspension of Gobind Singh Deo, from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), was passed after lawmakers from the opposition alliance staged a walkout in protest.

Parliament erupted into a furious row before the walkout as opposition lawmakers who control one-third of the 222-seat house protested against the Speaker's decision to deny Mr Gobind an opportunity to defend himself.

'How do you proceed to condemn a person without giving him the opportunity even to speak?' said opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who leads the three-member Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.

Mr Gobind, a first-term MP, was suspended from parliament for one day last week after calling Mr Najib a 'murderer' during a heated parliamentary debate.

'I will continue my constituency work, keep the fight outside and come back in one year,' he told reporters after the suspension.

Mr Najib was last year forced to deny having an affair with 28-year-old Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was murdered in 2006. Her remains were blown up with military-grade explosives in a jungle clearing.

Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz, the minister in charge of legal affairs, tabled the motion against Mr Gobind, saying he had abused parliamentary immunity and his privileges as a lawmaker.

He denied that the move showed Mr Najib - who is expected to be appointed prime minister later this month - was not able to tolerate criticism.

'Gobind is not just accusing a MP but the deputy premier for a hideous crime. He must be punished for the severity of the his allegation against the deputy premier,' Mr Nazri told a press conference. -- AFP

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