Former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Knew He Would Be Removed by PN Government

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The motion to remove Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as speaker was tabled on the first day of the Dewan Rakyat session this month, on July 13. It was passed with 111 votes in favour while 109 were against.

Former Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said he knew the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government would try to remove him as speaker before the motion was submitted.

“It was not a surprise. I knew it was coming. The signs were there.

“I am not a silly lawyer and I can read the signs. There were very negative vibes.

“But still I had the hope that people will see the sense of not removing the speaker,” said Ariff.

He said it is not convention anywhere in the world to remove a sitting speaker before parliament is dissolved and Malaysia has set a precedent.

“The speaker can be removed any time once the house is dissolved. That is how the system works. Other than Trinidad and Tobago, no speaker in the Commonwealth has been removed,” Ariff said, adding even the Caribbean island’s speaker was removed on corruption allegations.

Another telltale sign, the 71-year-old said, was his advice to extend the parliamentary session in May to more than a day went unheeded by the executive.

“If the leader of the house (prime minister) takes a position we have a one-day siting, the speaker can only advise, which I think I have done, that you can actually have more than a one-day sitting.

“Ultimately by convention, you decide,” Ariff said.

The former Court of Appeal judge declined to reveal the exact advice he gave to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

“That I cannot say, but certainly I didn’t say we can only have a one-day sitting.”

PN ministers then started pressuring him to leave office on social media a few weeks later, he said.

“(Within) a few weeks more, another minister responded with ‘for the time being we will retain the speaker’. I thought in my mind this is not right.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

“How can the executive be dictating terms like that? ‘For the time being’ – in fact, it was an insult to the office of the speaker,” Ariff added.

Some parties also started playing up his past membership with Amanah in an attempt to portray him as being impartial when he was the speaker, he said, which made him feel attacked.

The motion to remove Ariff as speaker was tabled on the first day of the Dewan Rakyat session this month, on July 13. It was passed with 111 votes in favour while 109 were against.

Ariff’s deputy Nga Kor Ming later resigned on the same day, in solidarity with him.

He pointed out that Pakatan Harapan was caught off-guard by the motion against him and did not have time to submit their choice.

The motions to remove and replace him and his deputy were submitted by PN well within the 14-day notice period required before the Dewan Rakyat convened on July 13.

However, the opposition only found out about the motions less than 14 days before the sitting, he said.

“The objection was that the other side should have been given a chance to propose another name within the same 14 days.

“It couldn’t have submitted another name within 14 days as that wouldn’t have been possible.

“The opposition only came to know about it less than 14 days (before the sitting), but the motion to remove me was made within time,” Ariff said.

Ariff and Nga were replaced by former Election Commission chairperson Azhar Azizan Harun and Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said respectively.

Azhar and Azalina were formerly Ariff’s students and Azhar even worked under Ariff at a law firm at one point.

“I wish them all the best. I couldn’t wish them otherwise, could I?” Ariff said.

Ariff also said he would not challenge his removal in court as he had only taken up the job as a form of service.

“I stand by my principles. I go by the book. I can say this because I am doing this as a national service. I am not beholden to anyone. 

“So, I have no problems if you feel you don’t need me to carry on the national service that I volunteered for. I am okay with that.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

“As a matter of principle, I should say this, I have got no problems with that because this is not a position I lobbied for or must have.”

Ariff on June 28 confirmed to the media that he had received a motion proposing his termination as speaker. He also received another motion to terminate his deputy, Nga Kor Ming.

Opposition politicians slammed the move, saying Azhar was made speaker without a vote or nomination from them.