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Najib moves to squelch dissent over reform

By Sunday December 14th, 2008 No Comments

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak met Barisan Nasional lawmakers in Parliament this morning and told them to back the two reform Bills introduced by the prime minister last week.

His meeting with the lawmakers was part of efforts to snuff out opposition from within the ranks which had built up in the week since Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tabled two Bills to set up the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

In recent days, a group of BN lawmakers had become increasingly restless over the rush in which they felt the two Bills were being rushed through Parliament, but they kept their opinions out of the public sphere.

A significant number of BN lawmakers also felt that while they accepted the need for reform, especially in the fight against graft, there were concerns that the MACC was being given powers which were too wide and arbitrary.

“It is almost draconian,” one BN lawmaker told The Malaysian Insider.

Under the provisions of the MACC Bill, anti-corruption officers are given wide powers to question and arrest suspects. Certain legal presumptions are also being introduced to monitor the lifestyle of public officials.

Parliament began debating the MACC Bill this morning.

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers have already said they are unhappy with certain aspects of the Bill, and have asked for more time to study it.

The Abdullah administration is also keen on getting support from PR lawmakers for the reforms as there were concerns about the unhappiness within the BN ranks.

One BN legislator from Sabah asked the DPM this morning about the rush in which the Bills were being introduced.

“These reforms were promised to the people before the last general election but were not introduced,” the MP told Najib.

“Now we are being driven by one person’s wishes. Why can’t we have more time as long as we introduce them before the next general election?” he said.

The Malaysian Insider understands Najib did not give an answer to the question.

He only told the lawmakers to try to make sure the Bills were passed by this week.

Source: Malaysian Insider

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