In a fix over speaker post

PETALING JAYA: The appointment of the Dewan Rakyat speaker has become a major problem for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government as there are strong objections for the post to be given to a PH parliamentarian.

A source said many MPs, including those from PKR, are also unhappy with the proposed name, Datuk Johari Abdul, that is being bandied about in the media.

The source said a majority of PH MPs preferred that the speaker be an independent figure.

"Johari, the Sungai Petani MP, was a former Biro Tata Negara director, a government agency that had been heavily criticised in the past," the source said.

"The speaker must be neutral above all else but Johari may not be so."

The source also said appeals court judges Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunos and Datuk Mohamad Ariff Yusof were favoured not only for their knowledge of the law, but also the absence of any political loyalty displayed during their time on the bench.

The source said many MPs would support them because they do not want to see a return of the "bad old days".

"Some people within PKR want Johari to be the speaker, claiming the party did not get enough government posts but many PKR MPs are against the idea.

"These PKR MPs are willing to support an independent candidate sans political affiliation," the source said.

The source also said Tan Sri Rais Yatim and Lim Kit Siang, who were purportedly potential candidates, were merely red herrings.

Lawyers for Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen said if the speaker is a staunch party loyalist, questions would arise over his or her partisanship and it would take time before that person can gain trust and credibility as an impartial speaker.

He said having an MP as a speaker may not be a good thing as there is bound to be political baggage and questions of partisanship.

The G25 said Johari is not the right candidate for the post and urged PH to reconsider its choice.

"We do not wish for a weak Parliament that merely rubber-stamps the wishes of the Executive. Malaysians deserve a vibrant and effective check against the Executive and PH must show it is serious in reforming Parliament," it said in a statement.

The G25 wants the PH government to nominate other candidates who are better suited to reform the Parliament.