KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian opposition MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has been referred to the Parliament's Rights and Privileges Committee for going against her oath as a parliamentarian over her meeting with a Sulu separatist leader's daughter.
Parliament had voted to take disciplinary action against her on Thursday (Dec 3) in response to her meeting with the self-styled Sulu princess Jacel Kiram in Manila. The meeting had courted controversy after photos of her and Jacel went viral on social media last month and was criticised by several quarters.
Jacel is the daughter of self-styled Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who ordered the intrusion of Lahad Datu in Sabah in 2013. The late Jamalul Kiram had sent 200 members of his "Royal Sulu Army" to invade Sabah in Feb 2013 to stake his claim over the state, leading to a bloody standoff that resulted in the deaths of 10 Malaysian personnel.
Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said a motion to cite Nurul Izzah was approved via bloc voting with 105 votes for and 77 against.
Earlier, Nurul Izzah, who is the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR's) vice-president, appeared choked up as she apologised for hurting the feelings of Sabah residents over the meeting.
"I regret and apologise to all the victims of Lahad Datu, Sabahans and all Malaysians because of my photograph," she said, adding that she had learned her lesson from the incident.
She said the photograph with Jacel was taken during a visit to Manila as part of a bid to rally for the release of her father, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was earlier this year jailed over a sodomy conviction that the party says is politically motivated.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the rights committtee was the best platform for Nurul Izzah to explain herself.
"That will be fair as the committee is represented not only by members of the government but by the Opposition bench," she said.
An MP for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh, said it was wrong for any party to ask for help from a foreign government to secure the release of a prisoner. "If they really want help, they should meet the head of state, not the enemy," he said.
Gobind Singh Deo, an MP for the PKR's ally, Democratic Action Party, described the motion as "an abuse of parliamentary process."
"We have repeatedly denied that there was no hidden motives during the meeting, but the other side do not want to listen to our explanation," he said.
Speaking to reporters later, Nurul Izzah said she had done her best to explain her actions to parliamentarians before the voting.
"I accept the decision of the Parliament, I have nothing to hide, and will continue my defence before the rights and privileges committee," she said.