Retired judge for Dewan Rakyat Speaker, says PKR's Saifuddin

PUTRAJAYA: Pakatan Harapan has decided to nominate a retired judge for the post of Dewan Rakyat Speaker after deciding to withdraw its earlier choice.

However, PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail declined to name the candidate.

Two former judges had been named as potential candidates for the post, namely retired Court of Appeal judges Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus.

“Pakatan will name as a candidate for Speaker who is not an MP, but an ex judge.

His name has already been sent to the Dewan Rakyat,” said Saifuddin in the interview at his office here on Thursday (July 12)

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister said that one candidate from PKR and one from DAP have also been proposed to fill the two Deputy Speaker positions.

He said that Pakatan had made a unanimous decision during a meeting on Monday (July 9) to nominate PKR’s Sungai Petani MP and Gurun assemblyman Datuk Johari Abdul Johari for the post.

He said although the Pakatan manifesto pledged that the Dewan Rakyat Speaker would be a Member of Parliament, the coalition’s leaders felt that an exception could be made if the candidate met the requirements for the job.

“Johari did not lobby for the position, his name was suggested by some of the Pakatan leaders taking into account that he is a very senior leader of PKR and he was not appointed as a minister after the 14th General Election," said Saifuddin.

However, Saifuddin said the meeting overlooked Article 57(4) of the Federal Constitution which states that an assemblyman must resign if elected as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker.

Saifuddin said nominating Johari for Speaker would have required him to vacate his state seat, triggering a by-election in Kedah.

With Pakatan currently holding 18 of the state’s 36 state seats, the resignation would put Pakatan’s hold on Kedah in a precarious position.

“We therefore discussed the matter again and felt it is better not to expose Kedah to such a risk” said Saifuddin.

Saifuddin also addressed criticisms of Johari as a potential speaker by the G25 group of eminent persons.

When news that Johari was being considered had broken, the G25 noted that with Johari being a former National Civics Bureau (BTN) director and a former PKR whip in Parliament, such express partisanship did not sit well with the post of Speaker, which they said should be neutral.

Saifuddin said Johari was actually a BTN director when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad first served as Prime Minister.

He said that BTN under Dr Mahathir was not the same as the bureau under the administration of subsequent Prime Ministers, especially Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“It’s very unfair for them to be critical of Johari, to say that they cannot accept BTN but they can accept Dr Mahathir,” said Saifuddin.