Opposition lawmakers have been up in arms the day after the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman imposed a ban on all debate relating to debt-ridden state fund 1MDB and alleged transfers into Prime Minister Najib Razak's bank accounts.
On Thursday (Mar 17), they challenged the order in parliament and forced the Speaker to make a decision.
"It's the speaker that decides whether it's subjudice. I don't listen to the minister,” said MP for Indera Mahkota Fauzi Rahman.
Ms Azalina argued it was prejudicial to raise issues relating to 1MDB, given the Malaysian Bar has sought a judicial review on the attorney general's decision not to prosecute the prime minister.
Malaysia’s Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali has cleared Mr Najib of any criminal wrongdoing. He said the US$681 million deposited in Mr Najib's accounts, of which US$621 million was later returned, was a donation from the Saudi royal family and not from 1MDB.
Opposition MPs were also quick to welcome a new government proposal to criminalise political donations from overseas.
"How can they continue to support Najib and at the same time support the proposal? It doesn’t make sense,” said MP for Kulai Teo Nie Ching.
Currently there is no law governing political funding in the country. The government proposal will ban foreign political donations and specify that all donations must be timely declared and banked into the party's accounts, and not personal accounts. Otherwise they will be deemed as gratification.
Mr Najib has been facing incessant queries not just from opposition lawmakers but also international media over the huge amount of money found in his accounts. Two Australian journalists were deported on Tuesday after they attempted to ask Mr Najib about the money in his accounts.
On Wednesday in parliament, Mr Najib took all criticism in his stride and responded to the accusations.
"It's clear that all these (allegations) are orchestrated, but not to worry, I have my responsibility to the people, the probe will continue by PAC and other relevant authorities on 1MDB and RM 2.6 billion, the accountability process will continue,” he said.
The next step in the investigation will take place at the end of March, when the bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee is expected to table its findings on 1MDB in parliament.