The Opposition DAP expressed today its cautious support for the nomination of Umno’s Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said as the next Dewan Rakyat Speaker to replace the incumbent, Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.
Its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng noted that Azalina has been at the forefront of advocating parliamentary reforms and has made good on her word by filing a notice for a motion for recall elections to prevent MPs from switching parties midstream.
“DAP is willing to discuss further with her if she is serious about putting her name forward to replace Azhar to restore Parliament’s image and credibility that has been badly damaged by Azhar’s subservience to the Executive,” Lim said in a statement.
He claimed that under Azhar, Parliament had deviated from its role as a free and independent institution for checks and balances and become “a mere department” to keep the executive branch of the government in power.
The Bagan MP said he hopes the government backbencher will be willing to explain her plans for reform in detail.
“Azalina should therefore set out her plans on how to avoid Parliament becoming a mere rubber-stamp of the Prime Minister and establish Parliamentary sovereignty as inscribed in our Federal Constitution,” Lim said.
He said that Malaysia’s ongoing Covid-19 health and economic crises could have been mitigated if Parliament had been allowed to perform its role as a democratic institution during the eight month-long nationwide Emergency from January to August.
“The people want Parliament to be the key institution of democracy that makes a positive difference in the lives of Malaysians,” Lim said.
He also said DAP back’s Azalina’s suggestion to appoint an Opposition MP to replace her as the deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker.
“Pakatan Harapan has proposed former Deputy Speaker and Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming for the Deputy Speaker post recently vacated by Azalina.
“As the King has commanded after the election results, ‘Winners should not take all and losers do not lose all’,” he added.
Pengerang MP Azalina drew praises as a reformist from the Opposition, especially the DAP, when she was deputy speaker in the Lower House of Parliament, a post she relinquished last month before the formation of the new government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh had hailed her as the most capable and progressive Umno MP and suggested Azalina be made a member of the Ismail Sabri Cabinet, and later on as Speaker, when she was omitted from the government.
Malay Mail reported on September 3 that Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had filed a motion for Azhar to step down as speaker and another motion nominating Azalina to take over the parliamentary post.
It is unknown if the motion will be tabled or otherwise.
The Dewan Rakyat is set to sit on September 13 after being delayed from its original date of September 6.