Despite undergoing a “baptism of fire”, Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun says he has no regrets taking on the responsibility of being Dewan Rakyat Speaker.
“Some will say it’s a baptism of fire. It is a good experience and we will learn from it, ” he said at his first press conference in Parliament yesterday.
The 58-year-old lawyer and former Election Commission (EC) chairman said he considered his latest appointment as an honour and a challenge for him to serve the nation.
Asked if he was pressured to assume the role or if his appointment was somewhat controversial, Azhar denied any pressure and said he was offered the post.
He said he resigned as EC chief before nomination day for the Chini state by-election on June 20.
“Some people say that when I was appointed EC chairman, it was also controversial.
“But I did not act controversially then and I won’t act controversially here, ” he added.
On whether he was able to control the MPs in the House due to the shouting match on his first day at the job, Azhar pledged to do his best to uphold the Standing Orders and decorum in the House.
“If they (MPs) want to continue as such, then the people will be able to see their behaviour. I will have to bring some control, ” he added.
Several opposition lawmakers kept interrupting and heckling Azhar as he was delivering his maiden speech in the House shortly after being sworn in after the lunch break.
He ejected Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad from the House for interrupting his speech despite being told not to do so.
On the alleged racist and sexist remarks by Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim against Batu Kawan MP Kasturi Patto, Azhar said he would not condone such remarks in the House.
However, he added that Abdul Azeez’s remarks were open to interpretation and explained that the MP had retracted his statement.
“But in the future I hope that there will be no more sexist remarks in the Dewan, ” he said.
Asked if he would push the Opposition’s motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin up the list on the Order Paper, he said he had no power to do so.
Semporna MP Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal’s motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin is listed as No. 27 of the 30 items in the Order Paper.
Azhar said he would consider continuing the reforms initiated by his predecessor Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof besides introducing reforms himself.
In his maiden address, Azhar said despite the Perikatan Nasional administration holding a narrow majority in the House, this would be a catalyst to more meaningful and dynamic debates.
He reminded lawmakers not to bring their politics into the House but to focus on the needs of the people and nation.
Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said made history when she became the first woman Deputy Speaker.
She replaced DAP’s Teluk Intan MP, Nga Kor Ming, who resigned from the post before a motion to remove him could be tabled in Parliament.