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Malaysia's speaker denies ordering judge to adjourn 1MDB trial so that Najib can address parliament

Malaysia's speaker denies ordering judge to adjourn 1MDB trial so that Najib can address parliament

Malaysia parliament speaker Azhar Azizan Harun. (File photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's parliament speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said on Monday (Jul 20) that he did not order a judge to adjourn the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial against former prime minister Najib Razak so that the latter can deliver a speech in parliament.

Responding to a query by Tanjung Malim Member of Parliament Chang Lih Kang, the speaker pointed out that he had simply wrote to the judge to “request” for an adjournment.

Mr Chang had also asked why there was a need for the speaker to write in to the court requesting for an adjournment when the speaking slot for Najib could be either postponed or brought forward.

READ: Muhyiddin removes parliament speaker with slim majority in test of support

Mr Azhar said: “The necessity is that Pekan’s (Najib’s) slot to debate the King’s address was at 3.40pm on that day and on that morning I was informed that he  had asked for postponement but was denied."

“We have a doctrine of division of powers where powers between the courts, executives and the parliament are the same. It is not like the UK where the parliament is supreme," he said. 

"So I had only requested for the judge to consider the application to allow Najib to come to parliament. There was no order.”

Mr Chang then asked if the speaker was setting a precedence. The latter noted that such exemptions have been granted by the court previously.

“Even before this, there were parliamentarians who have had their cases adjourned for a long time in order to allow them to attend parliament.

“The need is up to me, it is purely my discretion. I had slotted him for that evening and thus I requested for the judge to consider an adjournment,” he said.

FILE PHOTO: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak uses his phone during a break at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

On Jul 1, Najib had made an application to skip his trial to attend parliament.

However, the application was not approved by High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

On Jul 16, the High Court hearing Najib’s money-laundering and power abuse trial over 1MDB funds had powered through lunch hour in order to hear the case and end proceedings earlier.

READ: 1MDB scandal: A timeline

High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah decided to sit through the customary lunch break, having read Mr Azhar's leter.

“What I’ve decided to do - if your client’s supposed to be there at 3.30pm, I have decided to go on, continue without lunch break. I’ll stop at 3.15pm. Your client can proceed to Parliament, it’s just around the corner, ” he reportedly told Najib's lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

“I must put on record, there’s something on calendar in parliament. I don’t know what ... it wasn’t informed earlier. I don’t want to waste time, I’ll proceed. Unless I’m informed well in advance on the next occasion, I will not be entertaining any more requests for similar adjournment,” the judge added.

During Najib's parliamentary address, he urged the government to hasten pending national projects such as the East Coast Rail Line, Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail and the Pan Borneo highway in order to create more job opportunities amid COVID-19.

He also requested for the government to table a motion to increase the 55 per cent Debt Statutory Limit to a higher number, so that there would be a bigger fiscal space to fight the pandemic.

Source: CNA/kd(aw)

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