Dr Mahathir and four others going to court over appointment of Speaker, Deputy Speaker

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 23): Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) and four others today filed an originating summons (OS) to challenge the appointment of Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.

Those who are with Dr Mahathir in the application are former Kedah menteri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, former education minister Dr Maszlee Malik, Kubang Pasu Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah and Sri Gading MP Datuk Dr Shaharuddin Md Salleh.

They named Azhar, Azalina, Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon — the other Deputy Speaker — and Parliament secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin as defendants.

The suit is filed through Messrs Law Practice of Rafique.

They are seeking a declaration that the posts of Speaker and Deputy Speaker have remained vacant since July 13, and the appointments of Azhar and Azalina are nullified as they are unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that a 14-day period of nomination is required following the vacancies on July 13, and that the appointments to fill the posts must undergo a period of nomination, debates and voting to make them legitimate.

In the OS, the five claimed that the appointments of Azhar and Azalina were unconstitutional as they were not in accordance with Article 57 of the Federal Constitution and Dewan Rakyat’s Rules 3, 4, 6, and 47.

Additionally, Mohd Rashid’s announcement that there was only one candidate for the Speaker’s post was illegal, as was Azhar’s announcement of Azalina’s appointment as a Deputy Speaker, as the members of the House were not given time to nominate their candidates.

They further alleged that Nizam's announcement that Azhar was the new Speaker was also illegal as it did not fulfil the House rules.

In Dr Mahathir's supporting affidavit, the Langkawi MP said initially Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof chaired the Parliament session during the question and answer period on July 13.

However, it was Mohd Rashid who chaired the session when Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tabled the motion for the Speaker to vacate his post, which was subsequently debated and put to a vote, leading to Mohamad Ariff’s removal, said the former PM.

"I verily believe that after the Speaker's post is declared vacant, the House should be given time to nominate, debate and vote on the candidates and not accept Azhar merely [because] his name was the only one proposed," he said.

Dr Mahathir added that Sungai Buloh MP R Sivarasa and Beruas MP Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham did debate the matter and raise the issue of unfairness, that the MPs should be given time to nominate new candidates for the vacant posts, but this was rejected.

He also believed that the court could hear this challenge despite it involving the legislature, as it is empowered to do so under Article 121 of the Federal Constitution.

In a media release, the lawyers who filed the OS said their clients subscribed to the principles of the separation of powers and the Federal Constitution and would continue to raise any wrongful interference by the PM or the executive with the legislature.