By Rahmat Khairulrijal | New Straits Times
The High Court has set Nov 10 to decide on an application to strike out a lawsuit filed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four other members of parliament (MPs) on the appointment of Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and his deputies.
Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid fixed the date after hearing lengthly submissions from both parties today.
The former prime minister and the four – former Kedah menteri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, former education minister Dr Maszlee Malik, Kubang Pasu MP Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah and Sri Gading MP Datuk Dr Shaharuddin Md Salleh – are seeking to challenge the appointment of Azhar and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman as Speaker and Deputy Speaker recently.
They named Azhar, Azalina, deputy speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, and Parliament secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin as the first, second, third, and fourth defendants.
They are seeking a declaration that the appointment of Azhar who is fondly known as Art Harun and Azalina was invalid as it was unconstitutional.
Counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad who represented Azhar and Rashid in his submissions said the plaintiffs’ application was a mala fide attempt to abuse the judicial power for their personal political gain.
He argued that the defendants had acted within the power conferred on them by the Federal Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
“The Standing Orders were made pursuant to Article 62(1) of the Federal Constitution which empowers the parliament to regulate its own procedure and to adopt its own rules.
“An election of the Speaker is not necessarily contingent on the vacancy in the office as the Dewan Rakyat may choose to remove and replace a Speaker whilst in office.
“Azhar and Rashid had rightfully acted within the confines of their powers under the Federal Constitution and the Standing Order.
“Therefore, all decisions made by the first and third defendants (Azhar and Rashid) shall not be questioned and the originating summons should be rendered obviously unsustainable,” he said.
However, counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla who represented all the plaintiffs said the Dewan Rakyat has no jurisdiction or power to appoint Azhar and Azalina for their respective posts as the plaintiffs and other members of parliament were barred from nominating their candidates.
“There were two candidates for the respective posts as at July 13, so the debate and voting process must be held but neither debate nor voting process had been done in this case.
“Since the Dewan Rakyat had no jurisdiction or power to do what it had done on July 13, this Court has the necessary jurisdiction to intervene,” he said.
On July 13, Azhar, who was a former Election Commission chairman, was declared the new Dewan Rakyat speaker replacing Mohamad Ariff.
Ariff was removed through bloc voting, despite protests from Opposition MPs who questioned the legitimacy of the motion submitted by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.