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Speaker voted out; Deputy quits
Published on: Tuesday, July 14, 2020
By: Bernama
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Kuala Lumpur: The much-anticipated Dewan Rakyat sitting on Monday saw the substitution of a sitting Speaker amid an uproar and the approval of five government motions before the House adjourned for the day earlier than scheduled.

The new Speaker, Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, who was subjected to heckling even as he took his oath and delivered his speech, also ordered opposition Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad out of the House for the rest of the day.

Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof had to vacate the seat of Speaker after the bloc voting resulted in 111 MPs voting for the motion to remove him and 109 voting against. Kota Marudu MP Maximus Johnity Ongkili did not attend the sitting for medical reason while another MP abstained.

Although the majority of votes for the motion requiring Mohamad Ariff to vacate his seat was slim, it nevertheless showed the Perikatan Nasional government led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic) has the support of MPs and negated the opposition claim to the contrary.

The proposed election of Azhar, 58, the former Election Commission chairman, to replace Mohamad Ariff had been objected to by the opposition all along.

Azhar took his oath of office in the afternoon, when the House reconvened after lunch, even as the opposition MPs continued with their heckling as they sought to nominate a candidate of their choice for the post as well and have another election.

As anticipated, the sitting being held in the new normal amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saw MPs from both sides of the divide arguing with and heckling one another soon after Muhyiddin tabled the motion for the Speaker to vacate his seat.

The motion to have Mohamad Ariff replaced was objected to by the opposition MPs who urged Muhyiddin to provide a strong reason for doing so and not just because there was another candidate for the post.

Questioning the need to remove Mohamad Ariff, who was deemed to have done well since being elected in July 2018 after the formation of the Pakatan Harapan government, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and several other opposition MPs pointed out that the reason there is another nomination did not hold water.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, when winding up the debate on the motion, explained that changes to key positions including that of Dewan Rakyat Speaker are normal when a new government takes charge.

He said the notice on the nomination of a new name for the post of Dewan Rakyat Speaker was submitted on June 29 and accepted by Mohamad Ariff and included as a motion for debate.

He acknowledged that this was the first time in the country’s history that the sitting speaker had been removed.

 “But it’s not illegal,” he said. “This can be done based on the Federal Constitution and rules set in Parliament.”

He said there were also other firsts for Malaysia including the creation of an interim prime minister post.

 “When that happened, we accepted it. We are not sacking the speaker,” he added, saying Ariff would only be replaced.

But Gobind Singh Deo (PH-Puchong) said the motion clearly stated that the reason for the motion was because there was a new candidate.

 “In the Standing Orders, a replacement can only be made if there is a vacancy,” he said.

 “Notice must be given on the vacancy, and other MPs have the right to propose names to fill that vacancy.”

But Takiyuddin maintained that the papers were in order, saying the motion was approved by the speaker himself.

When Gobind maintained that the argument had no merit, Takiyuddin said in the event that a government changes, main positions should change as well, including that of speaker.

Mohamad Ariff, in his response, said the motion complied with Article 57(2)(c) of the Federal Constitution and it was submitted by an MP, not the prime minister or Cabinet.

Monday’s sitting also recorded parliamentary history when a woman, Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, was elected as a deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

Azalina, 57, replaced Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming who resigned from the post Monday.

The Dewan Rakyat also approved a motion proposing six MPs as members of the Select Committee as well as a motion for the Inspector-General of Police to ensure that the roads and lanes leading to Parliament are free of impediments such as disturbances. As the heckling continued unabated, Takiyuddin proposed at about 3.30pm, about an hour after the House had reconvened after lunch, that the sitting be adjourned to today (Tuersday). The Speaker then adjourned the sitting.


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