Dr Mahathir: Speaker must be neutral, not chosen to back government

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is pictured during the second meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is pictured during the second meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticised Putrajaya’s bid to replace Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof today, saying the position should remain neutral.

The Langkawi MP also insisted that there is no need to replace the Speaker as tabled by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in Parliament here.

“Speaker must be neutral to not side with any parties. If you want to choose so [the new Speaker] sides with the government, that is not called a Speaker,” he said in the debate in Dewan Rakyat.

Dr Mahathir said that the limited time to debate the motion to remove Mohamad Ariff was also akin to gagging the Opposition.

This was after Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon only allowed two MPs to debate the matter from each side of the divide, but with only 10 minutes each, leading to protest from Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and other Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders.

“Tuan Yang di-Pertua, this matter as said by brother Anwar (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim), this is a big issue for us to only debate with two people from the Opposition. This is as if to gag the opposing party,” he said.

Dr Mahathir added that the motion is also “very loose” and does not follow the rules, adding that there was also no need for a change of Speaker, as the post is not vacant.

“The government wants to replace him because he doesn’t follow the government’s demands, but it is not his job to follow the government’s demands,” Dr Mahathir added.

Muhyiddin would also be tabling three other motions later: to appoint former Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun to replace Mohamad Ariff; another to remove Mohamad Ariff’s deputy, Nga Kor Ming; and a motion nominating Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said to replace Nga.

This is to be done according to Order 4(1) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat. The motions are listed as the second to the fifth motions in the House’s Order of Business.

The motion faced fierce opposition from PH MPs who are against the move to replace the former Court of Appeal judge Mohamad Ariff and Nga.

As this will be the first order of business after Ministers’ Question Time, the motion will answer once and for all whether Muhyiddin commands the support of the majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

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