No conflict of interest in Azalina standing in as Deputy Speaker, says Art Harun


KUALA LUMPUR: There is no conflict of interest arising from Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said's temporary stint as Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker, says Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.

He noted that Azalina's appointment as adviser to the Prime Minister is not of a ministerial rank.

"I was informed by Azalina that her appointment is not of ministerial status and therefore she isn't a part of the Executive.

"She is only an adviser to the Prime Minister, not the government," he said in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 5).

Azhar was responding to Wong Hon Wai (PH-Bukit Bendera), who questioned Azalina's temporary appointment as Deputy Speaker, as he said it went against Standing Order 7(3).

"Standing Order 7(3) states that a Speaker can request a member to chair the meeting, but the Speaker cannot order a minister or a GLC chairman, because they are members of the Executive," said Wong.

In response, Azhar said because Azalina's appointment as the Prime Minister's law and human rights adviser on Sept 30 was not of ministerial rank, she was therefore not a member of the Executive.

"As long as she recuses herself from making a ruling in the House on matters that she is advising the prime minister, I feel there is no conflict of interest," the Speaker said.

He then cited an example of his relationship with his brother Tan Sri Idrus Harun, who is the current Attorney General.

"I can chair meetings but if I'm making a ruling (on matters that could be of) conflict of interest, I will recuse myself," he said.

"The same goes to Pengerang (Azalina's constituency), I'm certain she will recuse herself from making such rulings. She's a lawyer and in fact, we studied together. That is my view and my stand," he added.

Wong appeared dissatisfied and argued that other MPs should be picked instead of Azalina.

Azhar, in response, reiterated his earlier point, saying that if Azalina refused to recuse herself from making rulings in matters where there was conflict of interest, he would step in and intervene.

Chang Lih Kang (PH-Tanjong Malim) then stood up and asked for a guarantee from Azhar.

"What guarantee? I have already said that I told her to recuse herself if there is conflict of interest.

"That is my guarantee. Now, sit down," he said before asking Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof to proceed with his winding-up speech on the 12th Malaysian Plan.

Several Pakatan Harapan MPs had earlier questioned Azalina's temporary stint as Deputy Speaker, pointing out conflict of interest.

On Sept 15, Azalina was invited by Azhar to temporarily chair House proceedings.

Under Parliament Standing Order 7(3), the Dewan Rakyat Speaker may at any time ask a member to take the chair temporarily, without formal communication to the House.

Azalina, who had resigned from the post on Aug 26, has since temporarily chaired House proceedings on several occasions.

On Sept 30, the Pengerang MP was appointed the Prime Minister's law and human rights adviser.

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