Dewan Rakyat Speaker: I changed my mind at the last minute

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Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun has denied claims he was pressured not to allow former deputy speaker Nga Kor Ming from chairing yesterday’s sitting.

According to Azhar, he had simply changed his mind at the last minute, while admitting he had sent a letter to Nga asking the Teluk Intan MP to temporarily chair yesterday’s Dewan Rakyat session.

“I did send a letter to the Teluk Intan MP after he was ready to accept my request, but I changed my mind at the last minute.

“The (yesterday’s) proceeding was legit because I returned to the House to chair the sitting.

“I was not influenced or pressured by anyone to change my mind. I was only using my powers to change my mind,” Azhar said in the Lower House today.

Earlier, Gobind Singh Deo (PH-Puchong) had asked if Azhar was pressured by a senior minister to block Nga from presiding over yesterday’s sitting.

“I was not pressured by anyone,” Azhar told the Dewan Rakyat today.

Yesterday, Sin Chew Daily reported that a senior minister had allegedly stopped Nga from returning to the deputy speaker seat.

This morning, the Lower House saw another uproar where opposition MPs pressed International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, asking him to admit he was the “senior minister” alleged in the news report.

Gobind challenged Azmin to state whether he had interfered in Azhar’s decision to appoint Nga as a temporary speaker.

If that did occur, it would amount to executive interference in the affairs of Parliament.

Azmin, however, evaded Gobind’s question, saying he would not respond as it was the wrong forum to do so.

“I have courage, but this is the question-and-answer session. You as a lawyer should know,” said Azmin before his microphone was switched off by Deputy Speaker Rashid Hasnon who presided over the morning sitting.

Last week, Azhar had extended the same invitation to another former deputy speaker, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said who had resigned last month.

Following her resignation, the Dewan Rakyat is currently short of one deputy speaker.