KUALA LUMPUR - An Umno MP facing money-laundering charges has been nominated by the new Malaysian government for the post of Deputy Speaker in Parliament, drawing flak from opposition lawmakers.
Ahmad Maslan, who is secretary-general of Malaysia's largest party Umno, is currently standing trial for money laundering and providing a false statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over RM2 million (S$648,000) he received from former premier Najib Razak in 2013.
Ahmad's nomination was confirmed by fellow party member and Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz.
"Yes, confirmed," Datuk Seri Nazri was quoted as saying by news site Malaysiakini on Wednesday (Sept 8).
The Deputy Speaker position was left vacant after another Umno lawmaker, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, resigned from the post in August.
Ahmad's nomination has drawn flak from opposition lawmakers, with Batu Gajah MP V. Sivakumar demanding that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob explain his government's choice for the post.
"It is shocking to note that Ismail Sabri has reportedly nominated an accused who has been charged in court with corrupt practice and breaching money-laundering laws as a candidate for Deputy Speaker," the lawmaker said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Ahmad's nomination not only does not augur well for our Parliament institution but it is also an open assault on the institution's reputation," he said, adding that the Umno MP is part of the "court cluster".
He was referring to a group of Umno lawmakers who were charged with graft during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, which came into power after defeating the Umno-led Barisan Nasional alliance at the May 2018 election.
These MPs include Najib, who is appealing against a 12-year prison sentence for graft related to a former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary, and Umno chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who faces dozens of corruption charges.
Mr Sivakumar, who is from the Democratic Action Party that is part of PH, also questioned whether former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia would vote in favour of Ahmad on Sept 14 when the motion is tabled.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin had previously said he would not work with kleptocrats, even though his party has teamed up with Umno to form the current government led by Datuk Seri Ismail.
Mr Muhyiddin stepped down as prime minister on Aug 16 after several Umno MPs pulled support for him, leading to the collapse of his Perikatan Nasional administration.
In his speech after stepping down, Mr Muhyiddin said: "I will not conspire with kleptocrats or interfere with the judiciary or turn my back on the Constitution to stay in power."
Former deputy speaker Azalina had said in August that she hoped her resignation would pave the way for parliamentary reforms and multi-party cooperation.