Azhar: No conflict of interest in Azalina’s appointment as PM’s adviser and deputy Speaker role

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun reiterated his position that he saw no conflict of interest, but assured the Lower House that in the event a conflict does surface, he would ensure Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said recused herself from chairing the sessions.  — Bernama pic
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun reiterated his position that he saw no conflict of interest, but assured the Lower House that in the event a conflict does surface, he would ensure Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said recused herself from chairing the sessions. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — There is no conflict of interest for Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said to chair parliamentary sittings as her appointment as the prime minister’s special adviser (law and human rights) is not one of a ministerial level, said Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.

When addressing an earlier suggestion by Opposition MPs for Azalina to be relieved of her duties as the temporary deputy Speaker, Azhar explained that he was informed her appointment did not equate to her being part of the administration.

“I was told by Pengerang that her appointment as the PM’s special adviser is not a minister-level appointment, so she is not part of the executive, and is only an adviser who will advise the prime minister on matters which are based on her best knowledge of the issue.

“As such, she is not a member of the executive so I do not see any problem in my request for her to chair the sessions,” he said.

Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai then pointed out the public perception of her being part of the executive branch following her appointment.

Wong suggested Azhar appoint another MP as the deputy Speaker to allay any negative perception towards the impartiality of Parliament.

In response, Azhar reiterated his position that he saw no conflict of interest, but assured the Lower House that in the event a conflict does surface, he would ensure Azalina recused herself from chairing the sessions.

“When we talk about conflict of interest, the dynamics of it are continuous. If she does not have to make any ruling about advice or anything she has said, then she doesn’t have a conflict of interest.

“If there is a situation where she is in conflict of interest, for sure, I will make it a point and even tell her myself to recuse herself from the sittings,” said Azhar.

Wong and his fellow Pakatan Harapan MP colleagues had earlier asked Azalina to recuse herself from chairing the sittings, with the latter saying she was invited at the discretion of the Speaker on a temporary basis only.

Azalina was appointed into her advisory position on Saturday by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

She had quit as deputy Speaker on August 23, a week after Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as prime minister, but was returned to the post albeit temporarily on September 15 by Azhar.

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