No Parliament sitting on March 2 to pick Malaysian PM after Mahathir's request was rejected

Interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announcing the economic stimulus package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, on Feb 27, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Parliament Speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof has said there would be no special Parliament sitting next Monday (March 2) unless the King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, says otherwise.

In a statement issued on Friday, Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff said the letter of request for a special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat, signed by interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, was rejected.

"I found the letter did not abide by Standing Order 11(3) since it was not followed by a complete Notice of Motion," he said. Dr Mahathir did not state the nature of the business to be discussed.

"According to Standing Order 11(3), notification and sitting date is to be issued by me as Speaker of House of Representatives. As of now, no notice is issued," he added.

"I am also of the opinion that the need to hold a special House of Representatives sitting would be done after receiving the Notice of Motion from the King with regard to the prime minister selection process," Mr Mohamad Ariff said. "As such, I decided there is no special House of Representatives meeting on Monday, 2nd March 2020."

Mr Mohamad Ariff also said he is keeping tabs on current political developments and would issue notice of a special sitting at an appropriate time.

The Parliament Speaker met the King on Friday morning, and was summoned to Istana Negara again in the afternoon.

On Thursday, Dr Mahathir announced the special Parliament sitting to decide who has a majority for premiership. If no decision is made, a snap poll may be called. The announcement has been criticised by leaders from Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Umno.

PH, in a statement released on Thursday night, views Dr Mahathir's announcement as premature, given that the Conference of Rulers meeting was scheduled to take place only on Friday.

"The announcement to call for the special session challenges the rights and powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," it said in the statement.

Umno, meanwhile, has called for lawmakers to boycott such a parliamentary sitting, as it is "unconstitutional", according to party secretary-general Annuar Musa.

Tan Sri Annuar said that, as the King has not made any announcement on what he has decided pertaining to the appointment of a new prime minister, it was not right for Dr Mahathir to precede the King in this manner.

On Friday, the Malay rulers gathered at Istana Negara to meet the Malaysian King in the hope of resolving the country's political crisis.

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