Malaysia's Parliament Speaker to be replaced; Election Commission chief among candidates being considered

Several Malaysian parliamentarians have formed a rare bipartisan group to try to put an end to the party-hopping culture that caused the collapse of the federal government and five state governments in the last six months. PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Several non-MPs are being considered to replace Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof ahead of the much anticipated Parliament sitting next month.

Among those who are in the running is Election Commission chief Azhar Azizan Harun.

The Dewan Rakyat refers to the Lower House of Parliament.

According to a highly-placed source, the choice of a non-MP was because the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government would require each of its MPs to be on the floor in the event of a no-confidence vote initiated by Pakatan Harapan (PH) against the leadership of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

"Muhyiddin needs every MP he has on the floor. So the Speaker has to be a non-MP," said the source.

Others who are also being considered for the post include former speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia and a former judge, but the source did not name the judge.

The replacement speaker's name so far has been a closely guarded issue, and the Prime Minister could spring a surprise at the very last minute, said the source.

It was reported that the start of Parliament on July 13 may see attempts by the PN administration to "remove" Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff and his deputy, Mr Nga Kor Ming, who were appointed under the PH administration.

It is learnt that two motions to be tabled in Parliament were submitted by the Prime Minister on June 26 to remove them.

According to the source, the motion was submitted by Tan Sri Muhyiddin just 10 minutes before the 5pm deadline.

"It was an ambush, and the opposition had no time to propose their own candidates," said the source.

Speculations have been rife that senior Umno lawmaker Azalina Othman Said was poised to replace Mr Nga as the deputy speaker.

However, Datuk Seri Azalina, a former minister in charge of law, told The Star that it was "premature" to respond to such talk.

"A motion to replace and elect the (deputy speaker) will need to be tabled in Parliament, " she said.

The source also noted that the move to replace Mr Mohamad Ariff and Mr Nga was done in accordance with Article 57 of the Federal Constitution, which states that the speaker and his deputy may at any time resign in writing from his position when the House first meets after a general election, when they cease to be a member of the House, of if the House at any time so resolves.

Article 57(3) of the Federal Constitution states that in the absence of the speaker, "one of the deputy speakers or, if both the deputy speakers are absent or if both their offices are vacant, such other member as may be determined by the rules of procedure of the House, shall act as speaker".

Parliamentary convention dictates that the speaker's position falls vacant in one of the following three circumstances - when Parliament is dissolved for a general election, when the speaker passes away in office, or when the speaker resigns.

Meanwhile, Tan Sri Rais Yatim and Tan Sri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, who were recently appointed as senators, have been tipped to be appointed as the Senate president after it was left vacant by Tan Sri S. Vigneswaran.

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