KUALA LUMPUR – July 10, 2018: The call for Pakatan Harapan to appoint or elect an ex-judge as Dewan Rakyat speaker is gathering steam, with one prominent ally insisting that this is needed to restore the dignity of Parliament.
This is the contention of Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, also a member of the Committee on Institutional Reforms, who stated that the committee had identified candidates it thinks are best suited for the post.
“A speaker must be familiar with the Constitution, laws and must command the respect of the house. Must be independent. We have retired Court of Appeal judges who fit the bill,” read Ambiga’s tweet.
Ambiga however did not name the former judges being proposed.
She was responding to a tweet thread of civil rights lawyer Eric Paulsen on how crucial it is for the speaker to be chosen from a wider pool rather than confined to members of parliament.
However, the call to have a non-MP as speaker contradicts Promise 16 of Pakatan’s election manifesto which states that the speaker must be appointed from credible MPs and that he or she will have to quit partisan politics once elected.
Bernama reported Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as saying that Pakatan has finalised the candidate, with the announcement to be made by Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad today or tomorrow.
“Yesterday we held a meeting and only one candidate was considered,” she said.
The new Parliament will sit beginning Monday for the first time after the 14th general elections on May 9.
When told of Pakatan’s manifesto, this was Ambiga’s response on Twitter: “Manifesto say it should be MP. But if excellent candidate chosen, the people will accept.”
According to the Dewan Rakyat standing orders, a candidate must be nominated and seconded by at least two MPs other than himself. The process must be conducted at least 14 days before the speaker is elected.
If only one candidate meets these conditions, he or she is automatically appointed. Otherwise there’ll be voting by secret ballot.