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Azhar Harun: Speaker of the Lower House who descended to a ‘Government Lapdog’ – New Mandala


Sparking broad debate and public fury when the Speaker of the Lower House, earlier this month Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun (“Speaker”), introduced that former Prime Minister Najib Razak had not misplaced his MP standing as he had filed a petition for royal pardon. This is regardless of the King’s, (Yang- di Pertuan Agong, YDPA) stance that royal pardon should not be used arbitrarily.

A speaker is tasked with the heavy accountability to make sure that the parliament retains elected representatives in examine. This is particularly so in Malaysia the place corruption and abuse of energy are rampant. There is an pressing want for a reform-oriented speaker to be appointed because the Malaysian parliamentary proceedings and tradition have grow to be, within the former speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff’s phrases “increasingly toxic, like a pasar malam (evening market)” through the years. There was a brief triumph when a progressive speaker, Ariff Yusoff, was appointed and initiated reforms similar to parliamentary particular choose committees (PSSCs) to ease the shouting tradition of the Malaysian Parliament. However, because the Sheraton Coup and the appointment of Azhar Harun reforms have, unsurprisingly paused and the combat for parliamentary reforms had taken a downward slide.

Corruption is a large downside in Malaysia. Aside from the mega 1MDB scandal, the Chief Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Azam Baki was additionally allegedly concerned in corrupt practices. This problem considerations nationwide pursuits. The parliament is the perfect place to not solely maintain him accountable, but in addition for elected representatives to provoke reforms to counter the issue. However, the speaker turned down opposition MPs’ makes an attempt to debate this problem. His causes included the Prime Minister’s absolute discretion in figuring out the movement when in truth, Harun has the discretion.


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Recently Luxembourg authorities seized US$2billion Petronas assets on behalf of the Sulu Sultan’s heirs to implement an arbitration ruling that they had secured towards Malaysia. According to the chief of the opposition Anwar Ibrahim, that is the place Malaysia’s “sovereignty is being challenged”: an issue of public interest which might require MPs to debate for a greater decision. However, the Speaker opined that ought to be stored confidential “to prevent revealing Putrajaya’s counter strategies”. On this problem taxpayers ought to demand an evidence or an investigation to carry those that are accountable accountable. Harun’s excuses naturally attracted enormous criticisms, with many panning him as a “useless speaker”.

In earlier, ridiculous cases the speaker allowed three ministers out of home quarantine to attend parliament to vote on the 2021 Budget, a clearly political transfer to assist the then weak Perikatan Nasional authorities from dissolving. He additionally rejected a motion to debate the Pandora Papers the place a number of ministers, together with the Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul and former Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, had been allegedly concerned in incorporating firms in low or no tax jurisdictions. To make matter worse, he had additionally shot down motions to debate the flood crisis that took 46 lives and induced RM 20 billion price of injury. .

The speaker offered poor proof for his selections. The actual causes behind his actions had been to silence dissent and canopy up the then authorities’s incompetence and abuses of energy.  With Azhar Harun because the speaker of the decrease home, parliament has grow to be a haven for political elites to flee accountability and improve their grip of energy. He has failed as a Speaker however succeeded, in Bukit Gelugor’s MP Ramkarpal Singh’s words, as a “government’s lapdog”.

The time to strain for extra parliamentary reforms is now. The Sri Lankan economic crisis is a lesson a small nation like Malaysia should take to coronary heart. Rampant corruption, incompetent authorities and deliberate exacerbation of ethnic and non secular divides to serve the federal government’s personal wants has strongly contributed to the continued disaster. The worrying parallel between Malaysia and Sri Lanka exhibits that there’s an pressing want for parliamentary reforms to advertise a extra steady, competent and clear authorities.

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