Johari in race for Speaker’s job

PETALING JAYA: Former three-term PKR Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul is said to be the frontrunner as the Pakatan Harapan candidate for the post of Dewan Rakyat Speaker.

A source close to Pakatan said Johari was among those included in the nomination list.

Johari won the Sungai Petani seat in 2008 and defended it twice successfully, but he did not run in the 15th General Election. He is also the Gurun assemblyman.

“There were a couple of names, and Johari is one of them,” said the source.

When contacted, Johari confirmed that his name “is on the list”.

“I was made to understand that my name has been submitted. But I do not know whether I will be in or not,” he said.

“I have been hearing such talk since morning,” he said.

However, he will not be a shoo-in for the job. Tan Sri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, now a Senator, is said to be Perikatan’s choice for the post.

With both nominated, a contest is in the offing for the post of Speaker when 15th Parliament convenes for the very first time on Dec 19.

A source close to Perikatan confirmed that Radzi’s name was among those submitted.

“They have submitted the names before the deadline,”

Radzi, the son of former Perlis mentri besar Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad Mohd Hashim, is a veteran politician who has served as secretary-general of Umno and Barisan Nasional.

The 80-year-old former Kangar MP has also held the position of Home Minister. He left Umno and joined Bersatu in December 2018.

It is learnt that several candidates have been nominated by their respective parties and their names submitted to the Dewan Rakyat secretariat before the Dec 5 deadline.

However, there could be others joining the list as elections are also likely to be held for the post of Deputy Speaker as well.

A source confirmed that more than one name has been submitted for the Speaker’s post.

“There is a list of candidates,” the source said, but refused to divulge further details.

Last Thursday, incumbent Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun said that he had to vacate his seat at the stroke of midnight on Dec 18.

Azhar said that an election to choose a new Speaker will be among the first orders of the day in the House on Dec 19 if more than one candidate is proposed.

Other names bandied about for the post include former Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, who said he had not been officially approached on the matter.

“I have not been formally approached so it’s a bit difficult to comment,” he said yesterday.

Azhar’s appointment as Speaker in July 2020 was unopposed after Mohamad Ariff was asked to vacate the post during the Perikatan administration under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that, based on the Standing Orders, candidates have to be informed if their names are nominated.

“Of course, there are cases when nominees are not informed.”

Asked if he was among those nominated, Wan Junaidi said he was “in the dark” on the matter.

Former Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon was quoted in a recent report as saying that several names would be submitted for the post of Speaker and deputy.

Rashid, who lost his Batu Pahat seat to Pakatan in GE15, said he was not one of the candidates although his name had been bandied about.

During the previous term, Barisan’s Cameron Highlands MP Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor had been tipped to contest for the post when previous Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said vacated the seat in August last year.

However, no election was held to fill the vacancy prior to the dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10.

Ramli was instead invited by Azhar on several occasions to chair proceedings during the previous Parliament session.

Ramli declined to comment on the matter.

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