An eventful start to the first day of Parliament under the Pakatan Harapan government saw most of the Opposition MPs staging a walkout.
Former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Yusof took his oath of office as the ninth Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat today.
Ariff, 69, was the only candidate for the position.Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad proposed the nomination of Ariff as soon as the Dewan Rakyat sitting began at 10 am.
The nomination was seconded by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Ariff was directed to take his seat despite protests from the Opposition bench led by PAS.
Opposition lawmakers tried repeatedly to raise point of orders, presumably to contest the validity of Ariff’s nomination, but without success.
The official letter stated that Ariff was nominated on July 2, but Dr Wan Azizah previously said the former judge’s nomination was only sent in on July 9, later than the minimum 14-day notice period.
The Opposition MPs with the exception of Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin and Kimanis MP Anifah Aman walked out of the Dewan Rakyat in protest and sought a 14-day adjournment to satisfy the stipulated notice period, after insisting it was not possible that the notice was formally submitted on July 2.
Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the Opposition was considering legal action against the government for not adhering to the norms and procedures in appointing the Dewan Rakyat Speaker.
Ariff, who retired in 2015, is known for his great sense of impartiality especially during the Perak constitutional crisis in 2009 and the controversial open verdict relating to the death of Teoh Beng Hock, a political aide to a DAP assemblyman while being questioned by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.
He is also well-versed in commercial, banking, securities, arbitration, constitutional and administrative law.
In his acceptance address, Ariff said the 14th Parliament was momentous as it was the first time in the country’s history that a coalition aside from Barisan Nasional (BN) was the ruling government.
“Malaysia has bucked the trend of global politics with our people believing in democracy to make a change.
“Malaysia has become an inspiration for the whole world, proving the strength and sanctity of our democratic system,” Ariff said.
He then thanked Dr Mahathir for nominating him to be Speaker and Dr Wan Azizah for her support.
Meanwhile, BN and PAS have agreed that Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will be the Opposition leader in Dewan Rakyat.