By Stephanie Sta Maria
FULL REPORT PETALING JAYA: A letter by international communications consultancy Apco could lead to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim being suspended from Parliament.
The letter, dated Aug 19, was made available to Rights and Privileges Committee member Karpal Singh this morning. Karpal and Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah are the only two opposition members on the committee.
Karpal was also informed that the committee had met earlier today and decided that the proceedings would be based solely on the contents of the Apco letter.
The DAP supremo said the motion to suspend Anwar was passed by Muar MP Razali Ibrahim and seconded by Alor Gajah MP Fong Chan Onn.
"This was an ambush," he told a press conference at the PKR headquarters here this afternoon.
"Why was this letter not made available to us earlier?” he asked.
“I asked the speaker (Pandikar Amin Mulia) this and he claimed it was only distributed to everyone in the committee today. It is a clear case of riding roughshod over Anwar. There is no doubt this move is made to silence him,” he said.
The committee would not be hearing testimonies from Anwar or his witnesses.
Asked about the contents of the Apco letter, Sivarasa said he could not reveal the details.
During the parliamentary debate in March this year, Anwar alleged that Apco was previously engaged with Ehud Barak's One Israel campaign.
He also produced documentary evidence to substantiate his allegation that 1Malaysia was taken from One Israel. Apco denied the allegations.
Anwar calls it 'outrageous'
Anwar, who was also present at the press conference, described the matter as "totally outrageous".
"When I was referred to the committee, the speaker promised a proper hearing where documents will be presented and I will be able to defend myself," he said.
“This turn of events confirms exactly how powerful Apco is, that one letter from them can override all the evidence I have submitted,” he added.
Meanwhile, his lawyer and former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan declared that the new development was a “rude shock”.
“This isn't just a question of not hearing the witnesses but also of not hearing the accused which is unheard of. The public has been misled because they are under the impression that there ill be a hearing,” she said.
Ambiga also called on members of Parliament to leave their party loyalties outside when in Parliament.
Pandikar, who is also head of the committee, confirmed that a decision had been made but it would only be finalised when the committee meets again next Wednesday. That final decision would only be made public after it has been tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.
Sivarasa asserted that if the decision involves Anwar's suspension then both he and Karpal would withdraw from the committee.
“We don't want to be involved in unfair proceedings,” he said.
DAP's veteran leader Lim Kit Siang described the decision of the committee as “utterly shocking, outrageous scandalous”.
He said – in his tweet – this latest development to suspend Anwar from Parliament, coupled with Anwar's conviction for sodomy, indicated that the general election could be held early next year.