No Good Reason to Remove Speaker

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The Dewan Rakyat has the power under the Federal Constitution to remove the speaker of the House.

However, the question that needs to be asked is whether there is a good reason to remove him in the middle of the current Parliament term.

“The government may have changed, but (the duly elected) Parliament remains. There is also no allegation of misconduct or wrongdoing on the part of the speaker,” Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee co-chair Andrew Khoo pointed out.

He was commenting on reports that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has proposed that Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and his deputy Nga Kor Ming be replaced.

On Sunday, Ariff had confirmed he had received the motion proposing to terminate him and Nga from their respective posts.

Khoo pointed out that the speaker is neutral and apolitical, and (there is no reason to remove him) unless there is doubt about his impartiality or neutrality.

Ariff, a former Court of Appeal judge, resigned from Parti Amanah Negara, a member of Pakatan Harapan (PH), to become an independent politician before he was elected speaker after PH won the 14th general election in 2018.

Nonetheless, Khoo told theSun, the Dewan Rakyat is empowered by the Standing Orders to elect or remove a speaker, or to appoint a replacement for him if he resigns or retires.

However, he said, there is no clear precedent in the Dewan Rakyat for the removal of the speaker.

In 2009, the Perak assembly speaker was removed in mid-term following a change of government, he said but questioned if that served as a “good precedent”.

He also stressed there should be an acceptance and understanding that those in high offices should be apolitical.

“Our legislature is not like the US House of Representatives where the speaker’s chair is clearly a political position,” he added.

Khoo agreed with lawyer Kokila Vaani Vadiveloo that in the end, it will come down to the numbers.

If enough MPs support Muhyiddin’s motion, Ariff and Nga will be replaced.

Kokila, who is an expert in constitutional law, told theSun that under Article 57(1)(a) of the Constitution, the House shall elect one of its members or a qualified person as speaker.

“Therefore, it is only Parliament that can elect or remove the speaker, not the government,” she said.

Kokila said that although by convention the speaker and those in other important positions can be replaced when there is a change of government, there is no “known reason” for the intention to replace Ariff.

“Ariff is a great speaker and there has not been any contention by MPs,” she said.

– The Sun Daily