Was the law broken in the appointment of the new Speaker? — Dharm Navaratnam

JULY 14 — Iqra. Read. The first word of the Quran proclaimed to Prophet Mohammad. I am not Muslim but I do read and that is why I know about this. You may then ask why am I making reference to Iqra?

There has been tremendous uproar by some members of the public as well as Opposition members on the way Azhar Harun was elected Speaker yesterday. In fact, the August house of parliament was filled with shouting and yelling from both sides of the divide. Clearly a bad example that our supposed honourable members of Parliament displayed to all and sundry.

Apparently the opposition was expecting to be able to vote for the Speaker but Azhar, commonly known as Art, declared that as there was only one candidate nominated, there was no need to vote. This statement was met with derision by many, many people.

This was troubling me and so I decided to take a look at the Standing Orders of Parliament, which incidentally is easily available online. This is what it says in relation to the Procedure for election of the Speaker (Yang di-Pertua).

4. The procedure for the election of a Yang di-Pertua shall be as follows:

(1) Every member who wishes to propose a person who is either a member of the House or is qualified for election as such for election as Yang di-Pertua shall ascertain previously that, that member is willing to serve if elected, and shall notify the Setiausaha of his proposal in writing at least fourteen days before the meeting.

(2) A member addressing himself to the Setiausaha, shall propose some other member or person then present to the House for its Yang di-Pertua, and move “That ......(naming the member) do take the chair of this House as Yang di-Pertua”. The proposal shall be seconded, but no debate shall be allowed.

(3) If only one member or person be so proposed and seconded as Yang di-Pertua, he shall be declared by the Setiausaha without question put, to have been elected. If more than one member or person be so proposed and seconded the House shall proceed to elect a Yang di-Pertua by ballot.

Looking at the Standing Orders, everything was done in accordance with procedure. Only one person was nominated. No vote is needed.

The fact that the opposition is crying foul seems to imply that they do not understand the Standing Orders or perhaps were ill prepared in thinking that they could defeat the motion for a new Speaker. They had time to nominate a new Speaker to fulfil the 14 days’ requirement but did not.

This then brings up the question about the vacancy for the Speaker. Again, lets refer to the standing orders. Item three states:

3. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of Yang di-Pertua whether as the result of a dissolution

of Parliament or otherwise the House shall, as soon as a quorum is present, proceed to elect a Yang di-Pertua.

The key word here would be OTHERWISE. The vacancy arose because a motion was put forward to dismiss the Speaker. Going against convention perhaps but that does not make it illegal. So again, the Opposition seems to have either been ill prepared or not fully understanding the Standing Orders. This is cause for concern.

My point is simply this. Don’t object of make disparaging remarks against anyone or anything for the sake of it or just because you don’t agree with it.

Based on my understanding of the Standing Orders, I believe everything was done in accordance with the law. Maybe I am missing something because clearly, I am not a lawyer. Some may argue that I have no place talking about Standing Orders or the law as after all, I am just an engineer.  

But engineering has taught me to look at the facts. To make a decision or opinion based on facts and to then present this decision and opinion using facts and not emotion. We engineers are often accused of being a rather unemotional lot as we rely so much on facts but that’s another story altogether.

And before anyone accuses me of being a BN Supporter, let me just say that my political leanings should not be a cause for concern in pointing this out. I am simply calling it as I see it and I trying to be objective — based on facts.

So please, if I am mistaken, show me which part of the Standing Orders or Constitution or any other law was broken. Educate me so that I may learn. I humbly apologise if I am wrong.

We are often quick to deride. We are even quicker to make our dissatisfaction known, especially on social media, and in turn influence others — either directly or indirectly. It is very easy to find fault with things that we may not agree with but this is where we need to rely on the facts and not just let emotion take control.

And that brings me back to Iqra. That brings me back to why it is so important to read and to understand. The only way to learn and to get facts is to Read. Iqra.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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