Speaker Appointment Suit Serves As Guidance To Parliament Court Hears
The legal challenge by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four others over the appointment of Parliament Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun is merely to give guidance to Parliament over the issue, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard this afternoon.
The five plaintiffs’ counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla submitted this against the applications by Azhar and three other defendants to strike out the originating summons targeting the validity of not only Azhar’s appointment but also that of Deputy Speaker Azalina Othman Said.
Haniff's submission is a counter against the four defendants' bid to strike out the suit on grounds that the courts have no jurisdiction to hear matters related to Parliament proceedings.
Asides from Azhar, the originating summons also named Pengerang MP Azalina, Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Mohd Rashid Hasnon, and Dewan Rakyat Secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, as defendants.
Today was set for hearing of the applications by all four defendants to strike out the suit.
It was reported that Azhar and Rashid sought to strike out the legal action on grounds that the courts have no jurisdiction to adjudicate a matter involving parliamentary proceedings.
During open-court proceedings this afternoon before Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid, Haniff submitted that the legal action does not seek a court order for the current Parliament speaker or deputy speaker to vacate their seats.
“We are not seeking for the court to overrule the rulings or determination of the speaker and deputy speaker on July 13 (parliamentary sitting when Azhar and Azalina were appointed to their respective posts).
“But the orders and declarations (sought by the five plaintiffs) will go far to assist the House (Dewan Rakyat) on the correct interpretation of the law,” Haniff said.
“Are we, at this juncture, seeking for this court to interfere with the workings of parliament? No. This is stated in our Affidavit in Support (of the legal action).
“Guidance is required from this court to guide the speaker and deputy speaker in the sittings of the Dewan Rakyat,” Haniff submitted.
The lawyer added that the outcome of the legal action would not paralyse the Dewan Rakyat as the institution still has Rashid as deputy speaker.
The originating summons, among others, targeted the validity of the appointments of Azhar and Azalina as speaker and deputy speaker but does not target the validity of Rashid’s post as deputy speaker.
Counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad, who acted for Azhar and Rashid, then countered that if the court allowed the legal action to proceed, it would amount to usurping the powers of parliament in contravention of Article 62 of the Federal Constitution.
The lawyer submitted that Article 62 provides that each House of Parliament should regulate its own affairs, which includes Standing Orders.
Amer argued that the five plaintiffs came to court because of disagreement the speaker interpreted Standing Orders (linked to the appointments), which he claimed contravened Article 62.
At the end of proceedings this afternoon, Ahmad fixed Nov 10 for the decision on the striking-out applications.
Counsel Tania Scivetti appeared for Azalina and Nizam Mydin in today’s proceedings.
On July 23, the plaintiffs - Langkawi MP Mahathir, Jerlun MP Mukhriz Mahathir, Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik, Kubang Pasu MP Amiruddin Hamzah, and Sri Gading MP Shahruddin Md Salleh - filed the suit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry.
They are seeking a court declaration that the appointments of Azhar and Azalina are invalid and contravene the Federal Constitution and Dewan Rakyat standing orders.
They also seek a declaration that following the vacating of the speaker’s post previously held by Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, all MPs must be given an opportunity to find a candidate for the position.
The five plaintiffs also want a declaration that the posts of the Dewan Rakyat speaker and deputy speaker have remained vacant since July 13. - Mkini
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