KUALA LUMPUR: The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government under the leadership of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, which took over the country’s administration in March, today proved that it has ‘sufficient numbers’ in and the confidence of the Dewan Rakyat.
This was obvious when the motion to elect Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun as the new Speaker received majority support despite objection by the opposition.
Allegations that PN was a ‘backdoor government’ and had no majority support in Parliament were proven unfounded as it managed to successfully get Azhar Azizan elected as the new Speaker, replacing Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff, in this hotly-debated Dewan Rakyat sitting.
Muhyiddin tabled the motion for Mohamad Ariff to vacate the seat of Speaker and it was passed following a bloc voting, which saw 111 MPs voting for and 109 against.
Two MPs did not vote. Kota Marudu MP Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, who is also the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs), was absent due to health problems while Batu Pahat MP Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon abstained as he was the deputy Speaker presiding over the session at that time.
The sitting was broadcast live via YouTube and viewed by many Malaysians keen on following the latest development on ‘the first test’ of the PN government in Parliament.
“This majority is still pivotal to passing the motion (to replace the Speaker). It is still a majority vote (referring to PN’s two-vote victory),” explained legal and constitutional expert from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Assoc Prof Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz.
What is certain, according to her, is that the change of Speaker is legal despite the fierce objection from the opposition and independent MPs.
The opposition objected because it wanted to show that such an incident had never taken place in the history of the Dewan Rakyat sitting and that the excuse by the government to change the speaker because there were other candidates was not solid.
The government, meanwhile, argued that the motion complied with Article 57 (2) (c) of the Federal Constitution, which states that the Speaker can be replaced at any time based on three circumstances:
Firstly, when the Dewan Rakyat meets for the first time after a General Election; secondly the Speaker can be replaced when he ceases being an MP except by reason of dissolution; and thirdly at any time the Dewan Rakyat makes such a decision.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, meanwhile, said PN countered by using the constitution and rules of the meeting.
“It’s not about the previous Speaker not being qualified (to chair the sitting)… the opposition has the right to question as well as to play its role in terms of check and balance,” said Dr Sivamurugan, who is also a political sociologist professor.
What’s crystal clear is that today’s voting not only resulted in the change of the Speaker, but also proved that PN has the majority support. – Bernama