Vote on Deputy Speaker in KL delayed, govt may amend Constitution to allow opposition MP to fill role

KUALA LUMPUR – The much-anticipated election of a Deputy Speaker in the Malaysian Parliament has been postponed, to make way for the government to amend the Federal Constitution to create a third post.

The election was postponed to the next Parliament meeting, when Budget 2022 will be tabled in October.

“Our reason for suspending the appointment of the Deputy Speaker is because we want to table amendments to the Article 57(1)(b) to allow for the appointment of Deputy Speakers to be increased from two to three,” said Malaysia’s Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar when tabling the motion on Tuesday (Sept 14).

“The Constitution doesn’t say who will be the Deputy Speaker… we will create a rule maybe, so that one of the speakers is from the opposition,” he said.

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi added that the matter has been discussed with the Attorney-General, with the government hoping that it will be approved in October.

However, the delay was questioned by several lawmakers from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) bloc who said that the election should be expedited instead.

Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, who is from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), said the current workload on Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun and Deputy Speaker Mohd Rashid Hasnon may be too heavy for just two people.

“Choose whoever is proposed so that Parliament can move together,” Mr Sim said.

The motion to delay, however, was passed by a voice note.

Parliament has two Deputy Speakers and one of the posts fell vacant after Umno lawmaker Azalina Othman Said resigned in August.

On Sunday, Mr Mohd Rashid Hasnon, who is from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, said that there would be a vote in Parliament if there was more than one candidate put forward to replace her.

On Saturday, the secretary-general of Malaysia’s largest party Umno, Ahmad Maslan, who was nominated by the government for the post, suggested that a third position be created to be filled by a PH lawmaker.

Ahmad made the suggestion a day after the opposition objected to his nomination, suggesting instead that Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming, who is from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), be named deputy speaker.

Like PKR, the DAP is part of PH and Mr Nga was Deputy Speaker for two years after the opposition bloc formed the government following its unprecedented victory in the general election in 2018.

Ahmad 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, then leader of Umno, in 2013.

Batu Gajah MP V. Sivakumar, who is from the DAP, has demanded an explanation from Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob for nominating Ahmad as Deputy Speaker.

Mr Sivakumar described the decision as an open assault on Parliament’s reputation as the Umno MP is part of a so-called “court cluster” in the party, referring to the group of Umno lawmakers who were charged with graft when PH ruled.

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