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Opposition MPs stage walkout

When Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof refused to cite Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for allegedly misleading the House, members of parliament from the opposition walked out.

When the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found no evidence to support Lim’s claim that the previous administration “robbed” RM19.4bil in Goods and Sales Tax (GST) credit refunds, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob filed a motion to refer Lim to the Rights and Privileges Committee.

However, Ariff rejected the motion. He said Lim had used the words “robbery” and “robber” figuratively to describe how GST revenue was unlawfully diverted, which the PAC investigation found to have occurred.

There were no grounds to refer Lim to the committee over his statement that RM15bil in GST refunds was “stolen” by the Barisan Nasional Administration, Ariff added.

But Ismail Sabri reminded the Speaker that the issue was over the words perompak (robber) and mencuri (stealing) by Lim, following the PAC’s findings that the GST refunds were not missing.

Ismail noted that there have procedural and accounting weaknesses in the PAC’s findings.

 “We are not asking Lim to refer directly to the committee. What we want is for the motion to debated and a vote (to) taken,” he said.

Ariff maintained his decision which objected by Barisan MPs including Tan Sri Annuar Musa (BN-Ketereh) who suggested that Lim retract the use of the word “stolen”, and to expunge the word from the Hansard. Ariff rejected again this motion and a shouting match ensued. A group of Opposition MPs started walking out in protest but came back into the House shortly after.

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