Sarajun wonders if “lackey” Azhar Harun was chosen to enable BN / UMNO to dismantle & obliterate all electoral reforms & facilitate their return to power in GE-15? Has Muhyiddin reduced parliament to a circus?
On 13 July 2020, Malaysia made history, though not a good one. A Speaker of Parliament who was highly respected by all political persuasions got booted out of Parliament, the move defying all logic and sense.
This sacking will be remembered for many generations to come and become an issue that will be discussed by parliamentarians in various chambers throughout the world, especially those who practise the Westminster parliamentary system. It will be debated as well, in institutions of higher learning and become an important topic involving law and political studies.
That’s because of the stand taken by PM Muhyiddin Yassin and his men arguing that with the change of Government, they too needed their own Speaker to serve their own aspiration and direction. So they changed the Speaker, a move that was viewed as reprehensible, unethical, offensive, irrational and insulting to the dignity, integrity and the sanctity of our Parliament. For never in history has a sitting Speaker been removed to create a vacancy. It was done so dishonorably simply for ‘having a new candidate’ of their choice that it triggered the acrimony that followed.
Two things come quickly to mind. One, there was no resignation; incapacity was not the reason; disqualification, death or a fresh parliamentary sitting after a general election to warrant this decision. Two, a proper procedure must be followed in installing a new Speaker whenever a vacancy occurs.
To justify the removal, the Government’s resort to the provision in the Constitution that says ‘if at any time the House so resolves’ remained unconvincing. Ironically, the vote that was taken in the House was not ‘to declare a vacancy’ but to actually vote for the previous Speaker to vacate his seat without any reason furnished. Having done that, no declaration of a vacancy followed. Worse still, the new Speaker was not even voted in.
By right, the procedure to follow should have been to: 1. Officially declare a vacancy exists; 2. In the absence of a Speaker, the business of Parliament should have been suspended for two weeks to facilitate the calling for nominations; 3. Receive nominations, and; 4. Elect the Speaker. None of these was done. Hence, what transpired was nothing but a sham. Ignoring all these procedures, Muhyiddin invited the new Speaker to take his place, and Azhar Harun, unashamedly, assumes the Speaker’s chair.
The whole scene was as if the opponent was tied up and bashed up. Then claiming, he won the fight fairly. This is what the PN Government did to the Opposition. The PN Government was not man enough to offer a level playing field to the Opposition. Placidly, when values and principles were being trampled upon, the first to pretend to be blind, deaf and dumb were those from PAS. So much for Islamic values! They, instead, chose to become implicit in yet another treachery to our parliamentary democracy.
For a layman, what happened in the august House that morning was that – to put it crudely and bluntly – our Standing Orders, our Constitution and Westminster conventions were all gang ‘raped’ on the floor of the Parliament in full view of MPs present.
Azhar Harun is a lawyer whose hobby was to talk about national reforms. Yet apparently, he had no qualms in becoming a lackey to the very Government that came to power through treachery. He took the podium as if he had earned it and nonchalantly began running the business of the House. Within minutes, he was already chasing out an Opposition leader.
By the way, why did Azhar Harun, if he indeed was serious about reforms, leave the Election Commission? That’s where the root of all evil in Malaysian politics is to be found. Without free and fair elections or a level playing field, even an idiot will know what quality of MPs get elected to Parliament and become Ministers.
People can’t help thinking that Azhar perhaps resigned as EC Chair to enable BN/UMNO to dismantle and obliterate all electoral reforms that would have made it difficult for them to crawl back to power in the next general election which is expected very soon. Azhar, by accepting the Speaker’s post, had actually helped facilitate this possibility.
Didn’t Azhar know that Tan Sri Mohamed Ariff was already doing a terrific job as effective and impartial Speaker who had kick-started various reforms? This is probably the first time in parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world that a Speaker is removed for doing a good job.
It is very obvious that Speaker Mohamed Ariff probably would not have been sacked if he had not accepted the no-confidence motion tabled by Tun Mahathir against Muhyiddin. That was his undoing.
However, the social media is abuzz with theories about the possible role that Azhar Harun and his brother Idrus Harun the AG are expected to play. These are perhaps perceptions. One is helping to clear UMNO kleptocrats from being charged in the courts. So far, Musa Aman and Riza Aziz had walked away free. Next could be the turn of the maha-kleptocrat Najib Razak or Zahid Hamidi. Netizens suspect something drastic and despicable is about to happen in the courts that would shake the Parliament and Azhar was cherry picked to hold the fort and deflect the opposition onslaught when that happens.
Forget not Tun Mahathir’s claims that PM Muhyiddin will be forced to make sure that all UMNO kleptocrats now being charged in courts will go scot free. Failing that, the mere loss of just two seats is enough to make Muhyiddin’s Government fall instantly.
Tun Mahathir was our Prime Minister for 24 years. He sure knows what the Prime Minister can do to the rule of law and maybe even the functioning of the Judiciary. We are already seeing Police harassment and persecutions of NGO and Opposition leaders, aren’t we?
Something is very wrong with the way PM Muhyiddin’s mind works. Brilliance is lacking. But his luck shone when Tun Mahathir resigned. He was not the best candidate. Yet by fluke, when he suddenly found the PM’s seat within his reach, he grabbed it and became the Prime Minister with the help of those he had soundly condemned in the past.
Muhyiddin’s misdemeanors first came to light, according to Tun Mahathir, when he probably misled the Agong at that material time, with inflated numbers of support to claim the premiership. For the fact remains that four months later, after having given out 70 Cabinet posts, having created two Envoys with ministerial status and having appointed dozens of GLC chairmanships, he merely garnered only 111 votes to install a new Speaker controversially. His position, it seems, was not all that secure.
Muhyiddin’s second misdemeanor would be in calling for a parliamentary sitting only to hear His Majesty’s royal address without the usual parliamentary business that takes place for fear of a no-confidence motion that was hanging over his neck.
Muhyiddin’s next grand misdemeanor was his approval of almost RM300 billion of public money for stimulus packages on the Covid-19 pandemic without parliamentary sanction. Many countries around the world had their Parliament sitting done virtually. But Muhyiddin’s fear of the no-confidence vote prevented him from doing so. His pandemic excuse for not having a full parliamentary session was a bluff.
Indeed, it was urgent to hold a full session of Parliament. It was compelling that with the in-depth debate and discussion of MPs from both sides, a better strategy could have been formulated with appropriate ‘weight and measure’ to better serve the affected and the most vulnerable. There is no better time for our MPs to stand up for our citizenry in need. Not hearing our MPs means not hearing the cries of the people.
Electing a Speaker for Parliament without following the proper procedure and admitting that he needs the Speaker to serve his aspirations and directions is yet another of his misdemeanors.
Forget not that his Majesty the Agong’s realm, besides Islam and ‘Adat Melayu’, extends to the three centres of powers – Parliament, Executive (Government) and the Judiciary. By having control over Parliament, I would argue, Muhyiddin has committed a grave travesty against His Majesty’s realm. He reduced Parliament from his (Executive) equal to a lesser agency under his authority.
If the PM can control Parliament, what stops him from controlling the Judiciary, the other centre of power that balances and checks the powers of Parliament and the Executive? After all, that’s the argument PH leaders made in Parliament on the Speaker’s issue. Again, the new Government must have their own ‘men’ at high places to serve them. To know how immoral and detrimental a very powerful Prime Minister could be for the people, look no further. Najib Razak’s era is still fresh in our minds.
It is to avoid such pitfalls I propose that His Majesty The Agong should be provided with an additional Special Advisory Council of, say, five learned people (one each to represent the Agong, Government, Opposition, Higher Institution dealing in constitutional matters and a retired Federal Court Judge) to help him make better informed decisions without having to rely entirely on Prime Minister’s men who might be biased.
This will overcome the indiscriminate sacking of those occupying high offices such as Chief Justice, Attorney General, Speaker of Parliament, MACC head, Army Chief, IGP, Election Commission chair every time there is a change in Government. These respected officials are supposed to serve the people without fear or favour, uninfluenced by Executive intervention, only to be removed,if they must, by a tribunal sanctioned by His Majesty.
If the Parliament could speak and express itself freely, what transpired on the morning of 13 July would make it cringe out of shame. Parliament becomes an august House only when it fairly serves the interest of the people; otherwise, it is reduced to a circus.
By : Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan – MARIAMMOKHTAR.com