Possible polls for new Speaker

PETALING JAYA: MPs from the Pakatan Harapan-led unity government and Perikatan Nasional are likely to have their first face-off when the Dewan Rakyat convenes on Dec 19.

This is because the august House may have to hold a ballot to elect a new Speaker to replace outgoing Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun (pic).

“Based on the Federal Constitution, I will have to vacate my chair at the stroke of midnight on Dec 18.

“There will be no Speaker when the Dewan Rakyat convenes at 10am on Dec 19,” Azhar told The Star yesterday.

He said proceedings will be conducted by the secretary of the House, who will first call the House to order.

“Then comes the process of electing a Speaker. If there is only one name proposed, the secretary will proclaim the Speaker, who will then take his oath.

“However, an election must be held if more than one candidate is proposed for the post by the respective parties,” Azhar added.

He said the names of the candidates must be submitted to the House by Monday in line with the 14-day notice requirement.

Once elected, Azhar said all MPs will take their oath before the new Speaker before he presides over the appointment of a deputy Speaker.

He noted that an election would also be held if more than one name was proposed for the deputy Speaker’s post.

In November 2004, Barisan Nasional’s Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib was elected as Speaker after defeating DAP’s Tan Seng Giaw.

In June 2013, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia was elected as Speaker after defeating former Federal Court judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, who was Pakatan’s candidate for the post.

Azhar’s appointment as Speaker in July 2020 was unopposed after then Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof was asked to vacate the post.

On whether the vote of confidence for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be held during this meeting, Azhar answered in the affirmative.

“This (vote of confidence) has been listed as item Number 8 in the Order Paper,” he said.

On Nov 24, Anwar had pledged that the government would table a vote of confidence to show its legitimacy.

Perikatan chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had previously challenged Anwar to prove that he commands majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

The newly-minted Prime Minister had said the vote of confidence will prove that he commands the majority support of the House, strengthening the stability of the unity government comprising Pakatan, Barisan, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Parti Warisan, Parti Bangsa Malaysia, Muda and independent MPs.

On Dec 20, Dewan Rakyat will meet again to approve a mini-budget to ensure that civil servants are paid their salaries in January.

This is because Budget 2023, which was tabled by former Finance minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz on Oct 7, was not approved as Parliament was dissolved three days later.

Anwar had also said that a new comprehensive budget would be tabled early next year.

Asked how he felt about having to vacate his chair, Azhar said he was honoured to have been given the privilege to serve as Speaker.

“I have enjoyed my time as Speaker. It has been a fulfilling job,” he noted.

Among the highlights of his tenure, Azhar said, was initiating reforms by setting up 10 special parliamentary select committees and with their own secretariats.

He said he was also the first Speaker to collaborate with the then Opposition to organise a sustainability forum in Parliament.

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