Speaker, deputy apply to strike out Dr M’s suit on appointments

(FMT) – Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun has filed an application to strike out a suit challenging his appointment and that of his deputy Azalina Othman Said by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four others.

Another deputy speaker, Rashid Hasnon, who has held the position since Pakatan Harapan (PH) was voted into power in 2018, has also done the same.

In their application filed through Messrs Amer Bon last Friday and sighted by FMT, they said the court had no jurisdiction to hear and decide on the matter.

They said Article 63(1) of the Federal Constitution states that Dewan Rakyat proceedings cannot be challenged in court.

They added that the claims raised by the plaintiffs were a matter for Parliament to decide.

Azalina and Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, who were also named as defendants, are expected to file an application to annul the suit as well.

This morning, a case management was held via e-review in which High Court judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid ordered the parties involved to appear before him on Thursday for further direction.

Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali represented Mahathir (MP for Langkawi), Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun), Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam), Amiruddin Hamzah (Kubang Pasu) and Shahruddin Md Salleh (Sri Gading).

Counsel Hoe Sue Lu meanwhile represented Azhar and Hasnor while lawyer Syazwani Mohd Zawawi appeared for Azalina and Nizam.

The plaintiffs, who are seeking a declaration that the speaker’s position has been vacant since July 13, say the appointments of Azhar and Azalina are unconstitutional as they violate Article 57 of the constitution and Orders 3, 4, 6 and 47 of the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders.

They say a 14-day notice must be given for MPs to propose names once the positions of speaker and deputy speaker are vacated.

The plaintiffs also say the appointments must go through a process of nomination and debate, and be put to vote in order to be complete and legal.

Mahathir, who affirmed an affidavit in support of the suit, said Azhar’s appointment was against the supremacy of the constitution and rules of natural justice.

He also said Rashid’s decision to hold that there was only one name for the speaker’s post was illegal as MPs were not given the opportunity to propose other names within the 14-day period, following which a session should be held for the appointment.

He likewise said that Nizam’s action in calling Azhar to take the speaker’s position was against the constitution and standing orders.

He also said Azhar’s ruling that there was only one name for the deputy speaker’s position was null and void as, again, MPs were not given the opportunity to put forward other candidates.

Mahathir, who was prime minister under the PH government, said he was advised by his lawyers that the High Court could hear and dispose of the matter under Article 121 of the constitution.

He also said the appointments of Azhar and Azalina were illegal as the proceeding itself was against the constitution.

On July 13, a motion to remove Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as speaker was passed by a narrow vote, with 111 government MPs in support and 109 from the opposition against it.

The decision was announced by Rashid.

Azalina replaced Nga Kor Ming, who resigned as deputy speaker in solidarity with Ariff.