KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun was today appointed as the new Dewan Rakyat Speaker without a vote from MPs, invoking protest from the Opposition.
Immediately after he was appointed, the former Election Commission (EC) chairman also booted Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad out of Parliament.
Khalid had accused the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition of being a “backdoor government” and labelled Azhar a “backdoor Speaker”.
Azhar’s appointment today took place amidst a shouting match between Opposition and government MPs, after he was sworn in without a voting session by lawmakers, similar to the process undertaken to remove incumbent Speaker Tan Sri Mohd Ariff Md Yusof.
“How can you allow yourself to be used by them?
“The executive has meddled with the legislature!” Batu Kawan MP Kasthurirani Patho exclaimed.
However, in his press conference with the media later, Azhar insisted that his appointment was legitimate, saying that there is no need for a voting session in the Lower House, should there only be one nominee.
“According to the Standing Orders, if there is only one nomination, then there is no need for voting. They are directly declared as the Speaker or Deputy Speaker.
“As a lawyer who knows some law, I can state personally that when there’s only one nomination, then there is no need (for vote),” he said, adding that overall, he had a good experience today, despite the ruckus, and called it a learning experience.
He said that any party which wishes to nominate its own candidate for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s post, can do so by way of a notice to the Dewan Rakyat Secretary, within 14 days.
However, he added that there is no provision which states that the nominations cannot be made without the seats falling vacant, citing Standing Order 4(1).
Azhar added that he also never acted controversially, and does not intend to be controversial, after today’s intense drama involving him and the lawmakers.
“People said that when I was elected as the Election Commission (EC) chairman, that was also controversial. There wasn’t any controversy. I never acted controversially and I do not intend to act controversial here. It’s as simple as that. It’s a job and we do it in accordance with the Federal Constitution, with the law and with the Standing Orders, and I intend to uphold that,” he said.
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who was also present at the press conference and was today named the Dewan Rakyat’s first female Deputy Speaker, said that the Opposition had enough notice to choose its own candidate, but did not do so.
“The only issue here is that the Opposition, with all due respect, is looking at it from a political perspective. So their argument is that they want another 14 days,” she said, before adding that the decision to name a new Speaker was a public notice, and Pakatan Harapan (PH) could have named its own candidate.