Two candidates now in race for Dewan Rakyat Speaker

KUALA LUMPUR: The media-speculated race for the post of Dewan Rakyat Speaker seems to have narrowed down to just two candidates after social activist Datuk S. Ambiga spiked speculation she was on the shortlist.

"I am not a candidate for Speaker," said the former Bersih 2.0 chairman in a text message in a reply to Bernama.

Lawyer Ambiga was one of the three people mentioned in media speculation as to who would hold the position, besides former Selangor State Legislative Assembly Speaker Hannah Yeoh and former minister Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim.

Yeoh, reportedly the choice of her party, DAP, had, according to some media reports, come out tops in a Facebook poll.

When contacted, she declined to comment, saying the announcement should come from the government.

"Let the PH (Pakatan Harapan coalition) leadership decide and announce," she said.

Rais, a former Cabinet minister with legal training and wide experience, is seen as the front-runner, with an English daily even speculating that he is the choice of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the post.

In an interview with another English daily published today, Rais said the rumour was just a "big talk around".

"It was like this five years ago (after GE13). My name was thrown around and nothing happened. It could happen this way again as well." he was quoted as saying.

Although there has been speculation in the mainstream media and social media, there has been no official statement by the PH government on its choice of Speaker despite the first meeting of the Dewan Rakyat scheduled to convene in less than a month, on July 16.

In fact, several Pakatan Harapan leaders, when contacted, said the coalition had yet to have an official meeting to discuss the matter.

PKR communications director and PKR Youth vice-chief Fahmi Fadzil, who won the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat in the 14th General Election last month, confirmed that no such meeting had been held.

"So far, there has been no official meeting. I have not received any information," he said.

DAP vice-chairman Teresa Kok gave a similar reply.

According to the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat, the names of candidates for Speaker must be submitted to the Parliament secretary prior to the voting process which must be conducted at least 14 days before the first meeting convenes.

The Speaker need not be a member of the House, which means both MPs and non-MPs are eligible for the post, with both sides of the political divide allowed to submit a name.

If only one candidate meets the required conditions, he or she is automatically appointed the Speaker. Otherwise, there has to be voting by secret ballot, where the winner is decided by a simple majority.

Amanah Youth chief Mohd Sany Hamzan said Amanah, to his knowledge, had yet to shortlist anyone for the post.

However, he was of the opinion that anyone could be elected on condition that the person needs to be responsible and fair.

"Selangor has proven that a woman can also be a Speaker," he said in reference to Yeoh. — Bernama