In defeat, Pakatan senators insist only Dewan Negara members should nominate senate head

Opposition senators speak to reporters during a press conference in Parliament September 2, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Opposition senators speak to reporters during a press conference in Parliament September 2, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 2 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) senators have conceded defeat after failing to get its PKR nominee Mohd Yusmadi Mohd Yusoff appointed the new Dewan Negara Yang di-Pertua.

However, the Opposition senators insisted that the process that eventually led Tan Sri Rais Yatim to be sworn in as senate president earlier today was flawed.

“I want to stress that I have nothing against any of the candidates, but the issue I raised is very important as only a member of the Dewan Negara can nominate another member to become its president,” Senator Nga Hock Cheh from DAP told a press conference in Parliament.

Nga had argued earlier against Rais’ nomination by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, pointing out that the latter is a member of the lower House of Parliament and not its upper House.

“Both the Dewan Negara’s Standing Orders and the Federal Constitution, specifically Article 56, state that the Yang di-Pertua and the Deputy Yang di-Pertua must be nominated and appointed from among the members of the senate.

“Seeing as how the prime minister is also the head of the executive under the separation of powers doctrine, we are of the view that his nomination of Rais is strictly not in line with the Standing Orders and the Constitution,” he said.

Senator Liew Chin Tong, also from DAP, said the Dewan Negara has a bigger role to play now, given the instability of Malaysian politics at this time.

“We hope the government will accept the fact that the Dewan Negara now has a new normal in which to operate,” he said.

Liew had proposed earlier that the appointment of the Yang di-Pertua be moved to next Monday, which was ignored by Deputy Yang di-Pertua Datuk Seri Abdul Halim Abdul Samad.

“We had also proposed that Rais resign from Parti Pribumi Bersatu so he can serve as Senate president without a party position, similar to [former Dewan Rakyat Speaker] Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.

“This would have served as an example to future generations of the importance of remaining impartial and to press for reforms whenever necessary,” he said.

Parti Amanah Negara’s Senator Aiman Athirah Al Jundi, speaking on behalf of the Senators’ Council, said the manner of Rais’ appointment was “unfortunate”.

“During Pakatan’s 22-month administration, we attempted to uphold the primacy of the Dewan Negara. So what happened today is unfortunate.

“We have nothing against Rais, but this is a matter of legality. If this occurs, how can we continue to reform the Dewan and increase public confidence in it?” she added.

Aiman echoed Liew’s sentiments, adding that on her part that there would have been no issue with nominating and appointing Rais had the process been moved to next week.

Yusmadi thanked all his friends and fellow senators for trying their best in attempting to vote him in as Yang di-Pertua.

“This was a good example of coordination among the Opposition senators. We acknowledge Rais’ appointment even as we feel some of its issues could have been resolved better, but nonetheless today we have made history in the Dewan Negara,” he said.

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