Dr Mahathir, four MPs say Parliament tainted by ‘illegality’ of new Speaker’s appointment

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
·2-min read
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reacts during a session of the lower house of parliament, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 13, 2020. — Reuters pic
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reacts during a session of the lower house of parliament, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 13, 2020. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four other Opposition lawmakers accused today the new government of tainting Parliament by appointing a new Lower House Speaker through what they termed as illegal means.

The Langkawi MP and four former Parti Bersatu Pribumi Malaysia MPs said Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun is not the Speaker legitimately picked by members of the Lower House, as his appointment was not put through a vote.

The lawmakers also suggested the appointment was rushed through, noting that little time was provided to debate both the motions to replace Tan Sri Ariff Mohamad Md Yusof and install Azizan, despite the magnitude of such motions.

“We regret the incident that transpired in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday when the prime minister had tabled a motion to replace Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof,” the five said in a statement of sharp rebuke against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyhiddin Yassin.

“No reasonable explanation was given and the debate was marred with the insolence of several government MPs,” they added.

“The Opposition was also given little time to debate a motion never before tabled in the Lower House’s history. And we regret that the new Speaker Azizan@Harun had taken the post to chair the proceeding without meeting Standing Order No. 3.”

The statement was signed by Dr Mahathir (Langkawi), his son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun), Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muar), Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam) and Amiruddin Hamzah (Kubang Pasu).

Muhyiddin tabled a controversial motion to replace Mohamad Ariff on the first day of Parliament for his newly-formed Perikatan Nasional government, an unprecedented move that marked the first time a sitting Speaker was voted out.

One hundred and eleven lawmakers had voted for it against 109, just two short of a tie.

Malay Mail was informed that Kota Marudu MP Datuk Seri Maximus Johnity Ongkili was absent for medical reasons, while another vote belonged to Deputy Speaker Datuk Rashid Hasnon, who was unable to cast his vote as he was presiding over the meeting.

The ensuing debate over the motion eventually erupted into a verbal slugfest, as Opposition MPs attempted to thwart Azhar’s appointment by casting doubt over the legality of the process.

The main contention raised by the Opposition was that Azhar’s appointment should have been put to a vote, and then debated.

Dr Mahathir, the former chairman of Bersatu who now leads a faction of independent MPs aligned with Pakatan Harapan, in criticising Muhyiddin, echoed the argument.

“We find it peculiar that the Pagoh MP (Muhyiddin) did not put Azizan Harun’s nomination to the vote considering this ‘Perikatan Nasional’ government purportedly enjoyed 111 majority votes to vacate the Speaker’s post,” their statement read.

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