Friday 14 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 27): The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) tasked with reviewing the handling of sovereignty claim over Batu Puteh, Batuan Tengah, and Tubir Selatan will have up to six months to complete its investigation, the law minister said on Tuesday.

The RCI's terms of reference involve obtaining additional information on challenges faced by the special task force established by the previous government, according to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

Additionally, the RCI will investigate potential violations of laws or administrative norms, evaluate legislative and non-legislative actions, and prepare a report for Cabinet consideration.

"The time period set for this RCI investigation is one to three months, with a maximum period of six months, taking into account the wide scope of the investigation and the complexity of the issues involved," Azalina said during her ministerial explanation to the special chambers.

Azalina detailed the challenges faced by the special task force, including difficulties in obtaining classified documents, insufficient input from relevant ministries, departments, or individuals, obstacles in accessing documents due to protective orders, and the absence of authority to summon witnesses and acquire relevant documents.

In comparison, Azalina said the RCI -- comprising seven commissioners and one secretary with expertise in judiciary, legislation, and public administration -- has been granted powers to subpoena, issue arrest warrants, and impose fines to uncover the truth.

Once approved by the King, the RCI report will be presented to the Cabinet for consideration of appropriate actions in addressing national sovereignty issues more effectively, Azalina said. She also affirmed the government's commitment to presenting the RCI report in Parliament.

Meanwhile, Azalina emphasised that the selection of commissioners under the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950 is within the discretion of the King of Malaysia, and no other party has the authority to appoint or revoke commissioners, including the RCI itself.

On Jan 24, the Cabinet agreed to establish an RCI examining the management of sovereignty issues related to Batu Puteh, Batuan Tengah, and Tubir Selatan.

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim later consented to the RCI's establishment and the appointment of seven members, including former chief justice Tun Md Raus Sharif as the chairman and former Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zainun Ali as the deputy chairman.

However, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said he may boycott the RCI if Raus remains the commission's chairman, citing an alleged violation of natural justice due to Raus being considered an "interested party".

Edited ByJason Ng
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