Here’s why MACC can’t investigate Wan Saiful’s claim that he was allegedly offered RM1.7 million bribe to support Anwar

After a short hiatus, the Dewan Rakyat is now back in session, with many interesting discussions and debates taking place over the past 2 weeks or so in the Lower House of Parliament. One of the most striking incidents which turned the heat up among Members of Parliament (MPs) has got to be the claim by Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan that he had allegedly been offered a bribe to support Tambun MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister.

During the sitting on 28 February, Wan Saiful claimed that he had several closed meetings with certain individuals after they failed to contact him via telephone. In the meeting, the Tasek Gelugor MP alleged that he would be rewarded should he pledge support to Anwar, including an RM1.7 million allocation for his constituency and projects allocation that can be distributed to his cronies.

He further claimed that the individuals know that he’s currently in a tough spot, including how his wife is now suffering from cancer. However, he didn’t reveal who these individuals were but claimed to have records of the meetings.

Outside of the Dewan Rakyat, Wan Saiful then revealed that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had contacted him one hour after the revelation, though this was denied by its Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Azam Baki. Azam further revealed that Wan Saiful has yet to report to the commission about the alleged bribe offer and on 4 March 2024, gave him a week to lodge a report so that action can be taken for the alleged offence.

With that in mind, if Wan Saiful doesn’t report the alleged bribe offence to MACC, the commission can’t actually summon him to give a statement regarding the claim. This is because of the “legal immunity” that MPs have for anything said in the Dewan Rakyat.

Well, join us as we delve into the relevant laws on the matter below.

The special privileges of Parliament

MACC can’t interfere with any statements issued by an MP in the Dewan Rakyat as MPs are prescribed with a form of “legal immunity” for anything said in the Lower House of Parliament. This is as per Article 63 of the Federal Constitution below:

From the above, it is clearly prescribed in Articles 63(2) and 63(3) that a statement made in either the House of Parliament or any Parliamentary committee is not liable to any proceedings in any court in Malaysia. As the Federal Constitution is the highest law of the land, this provision means that MACC has no jurisdiction over the matters said in Parliament.

The only exceptions to this immunity are if the statement is an offence under Clause (4) of Article 10 or with an offence under the Sedition Act 1948 or if the MPs advocate the abolition of the constitutional position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Supreme Head of the Federation or the constitutional position of the Ruler of a State as prescribed by Articles 63(4) and 63(5) of the Federal Constitution. However, none of these are applicable to the statement made by the Tasek Gelugor MP.

Hence, MACC can’t investigate the claims made by Wan Saiful in Parliament unless he himself lodges a report to the commission. Furthermore, Azam Baki also has no authority to give a time frame for the Tasek Gelugor to lodge a report to MACC, as the commission has no locus standi or legal standing over his speech in the Dewan Rakyat.

What actions can be taken then?

So, what actions can be taken then? Well, if other MPs, especially from the government found Wan Saiful’s statement to have ill intention or misleading due to the lack of proof behind the claim, they can always refer him to the Rights and Privileges Committee of Parliament.

Any MP can invoke Rule 36(12) of the Standing Order for misleading the Dewan Rakyat and Rule 36(6) of the Standing Order for ill-intention against Wan Saiful if they see fit. It would then be up to the Rights and Privileges Committee to decide on the matter.

Moving forward, it would be interesting to see how things would unfold and whether Wan Saiful would end up lodging a report to MACC for the alleged bribe that was offered to him.

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