Opposition MPs stage walkout as Speaker announced

16 Jul 2018 / 13:58 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The first day of Parliament was marred by controversy as opposition lawmakers walked out of the Dewan Rakyat as former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof was being sworn in as Speaker.
The mass walkout by Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS MPs led by opposition leader Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took place just moments after Mohamad Ariff stepped into the dewan.
They were protesting his appointment as they claimed it was not done in accordance with Parliament’s standing order which requires the name of the speaker to be submitted at least 14 days prior to the sitting.
Only Khairy Jamaluddin, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and Datuk Rozman Isli from BN remained in the dewan.
Khairy was seen asking his fellow opposition members to remain seated as the walkout took place, with only Anifah heeding his call.
Earlier, Dewan Rakyat secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah announced the speaker’s name, claiming the name was submitted by the prime minister on July 2, when the opposition MPs began jeering in protest.
The boos rang louder as premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stood up to announce his proposed candidate, Mohamad Ariff.
Speaking to reporters later, Ahmad Zahid said the opposition was not protesting the choice of the speaker but merely the procedure of his appointment, and argued that they had evidence through media reports that the name was not submitted on July 2 as claimed by Roosme.
Explaining the matter, PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said this included Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail claiming only on July 10 that the name had been finalised.
“From all of these facts, we can conclude that the appointment and naming of the speaker were not done on July 2 and that Mohamad Arif’s appointment is invalid.
“So we are urging for the parliament be suspended for 14 days to allow for the official appointment of the Speaker to be effective,” he said.
Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the call for the temporary suspension of the parliament was to allow the name to be resubmitted.
“What we (opposition) need to do now is talk to the secretary of the dewan because she claimed the appointment was legal. We need to check,” she said.
Meanwhile, Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the opposition lawmakers were only boycotting the swearing in of the speaker and not the whole parliament session.
He said he was also informed by outgoing speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia that a Parliament staff had told him that no names had been submitted after the supposed July 2 deadline.
He added that they would consider taking legal action to challenge the “illegal appointment” of the Speaker.
The opposition MPs later returned to the house for their swearing-in ceremony.


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