Except for Khairy Jamaluddin and Anifah Aman, Opposition MPs stormed out after swearing-in of Speaker.
- Umno won’t punish Khairy for not joining walkout
- Speaker name proposed on July 2, no backdating
- Dr M says walkout merely a drama
- Anifah felt not necessary to walk out
- Khairy wants to be an exemplary Opposition MP and respect the ceremony, says walkout “not the way to protest”
Khairy Jamaluddin may have not been aware of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) plan to stage a walkout in Parliament on Monday (July 16), Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa said because the Rembau MP did not attend the customary Barisan MPs’ pre-council meeting held on Sunday night (July 15).
“He wasn’t at the meeting, perhaps he was busy with the World Cup final.
“It was at this meeting that we decided that if we are not allowed to present our objection over the manner the Speaker was appointed, we would walk out and talk to the media,” he told a press conference on Monday (July 16).
Annuar said they were surprised when Khairy stayed put.
Asked whether the former Youth and Sports Minister would be punished, Annuar said, “No action”.
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, Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.
Their protests came to a head when Kota Baru MP Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS) interrupted Roosme while she was announcing Ariff’s appointment.
“Point of order!” the PAS MP cried repeatedly while questioning if this is the “Malaysia Baharu (New Malaysia)” that exists following the 14th general election.
Takiyuddin’s cries were then taken up by BN’s Tanjung Karang MP Tan Sri Noh Omar, who accused the Pakatan Harapan administration of dishonesty as Dr Mahathir was proposing Ariff for the role of Speaker.
As their objections went unheeded, Opposition lawmakers led by Kota Baru MP Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan from PAS stormed out of the Dewan Rakyat in protest of Ariff’s 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.
According to Dr Mahathir, the letter to Roosme proposing Ariff as Speaker was indeed dated July 2, the last day of the 14-day deadline to propose names for Speaker.
“It was not backdated. In fact, it was prepared earlier, so when I signed, I put the date,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Amanah secretary-general Mohd Anuar Tahir said Ariff had resigned as the disciplinary chief and a member of the experts’ advisory committee on July 1.
“We received his letter of resignation and approved it on the same day.
“So he is now an ordinary member, of whom he is well within his rights to be as a citizen,” he added.
On the walkout, Dr Mahathir said that was merely a drama (sandiwara).
“That is sandiwara. It’s just playing things. For the first time, the ex-prime minister walked out so now he knows what it means when people walked out before,” he said.
Asked about the choice of a non-MP as a Speaker, Dr Mahathir said while the Pakatan Harapan manifesto had stated that the Speaker should be an MP, this was merely a guideline and not the law.
“Please remember the manifesto isn’t a bible, it is guidance. Sometimes we can do things, sometimes we find that we can’t, so we have to be very practical minded.
“I think the public would like to have somebody who isn’t related to any party (in Dewan Rakyat),” he said.
Like Khairy, Kimanis MP Anifah Aman did not participate in the walkout.
“We have already expressed that we do not agree and were unhappy about the appointment process of the Dewan Rakyat speaker today.
“I respect the views and stance of my fellow friends that stood as the Opposition today.
“However, based on my opinion, I felt that it was not necessary for me to leave the Dewan this morning,” Anifah said in a statement on Monday (July 16).
The former foreign minister also said that he will give his opinion or act on any issues which will benefit the people and the country.
He also congratulated Ariff on his appointment as the Dewan Rakyat speaker.
Saying he was “still with Umno”, Khairy added he wanted to be an exemplary Opposition MP, which is why he decided not to join in the walkout.
“I am an Umno member and I know my limits. But when I am required to give my opinions, I will give them according to what I think it is right,” he said, adding that he was only speaking for himself.
The former youth and sports minister also said that a walkout “is not the way to protest” and his decision came out of respect for the House.
“It is better to respect the ceremony and not do anything that can tarnish the BN image,” he said.
The Opposition group later returned after Ariff was appointed to complete their own swearing-in ceremony.
Out of the 221 members of the Dewan Rakyat, only Pagoh MP Muhyiddin Yassin was not sworn in because he is on medical leave following his recent surgery to remove a tumour from his pancreas.