Former Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has chastised his successor Azhar Azizan Harun for being partisan when carrying out his duties.
He said his criticism of Azhar was not as much on his powers but his lack of impartiality.
“As a speaker, you have to be impartial. You cannot side with the executives.
“The speaker is a speaker of the whole house. For heaven’s sake. Someone has got to tell him.
“He or she has got to be impartial. You cannot protect a minister. You cannot suggest an answer to the minister,” he said in an online forum titled “Whither Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy in Malaysia today?” hosted by OHMSI Perdana Forum.
Ariff added that this is where Azhar had breached not only the rules but the convention of the speakers’ position.
Azhar, who is popularly known as Art Harun, came under fire for his apparent partiality towards Perikatan Nasional (PN) lawmakers last year when Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz was delivering his winding-up speech for the debate on the king’s address.
It was reported that Azhar was described as appearing to speak on behalf of Zafrul during the latter’s debate with Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng.
Lim, the former finance minister, had asked his successor if the US$3.9 million 1MDB settlement agreement with Goldman Sachs had been discussed and agreed upon by the cabinet.
Before Zafrul answered, Azhar interjected and said it was a decision by the finance ministry, hence it would have surely been brought to the cabinet.
Azhar later denied speaking on behalf of the finance minister, saying that his intention was to keep time on speech.
Despite the shouting match between the opposition and government MPs, Azhar was sworn in without a voting session. A similar process had earlier been undertaken to remove Ariff.
On the larger question of what was wrong with Parliament, in relation to the poor or bad behaviour of some MPs, Ariff said everyone needed to ask themselves that question.
“We have to ask what’s wrong with us? What’s wrong with me? (That) we have a bunch of jokers who create problems in the house.
“We put the jokers there, through the political set-up.
“But there are many of us who would blindly follow, blindly toe the party line, come what may. This is where things have to change.”