The speaker of the Dewan Rakyat has pulled out from a forum on parliamentary democracy where former prime minister Najib Razak will have the last word in the form of a keynote address at the end of the event.
Azhar Harun was among a line-up of speakers who also include Pakatan Harapan heavyweights such as PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, DAP’s Teresa Kok and Amanah’s Khalid Samad.
When contacted, Azhar who was slated to speak on the future of parliamentary democracy, confirmed that he was not attending, saying the event clashes with another meeting.
It is believed that Anwar, as well as Khalid and Kok, will still participate.
It is unclear whether another participant listed in the itinerary, Dewan Negara Speaker Rais Yatim, will be attending as well. He has not responded to queries from MalaysiaNow.
The one-day forum is organised by a think tank called International Strategy Institute, whose chairman is Cheah Chyuan Yong.
Earlier this week, MalaysiaNow reported that Najib’s attendance at a forum on democracy had raised eyebrows due to the former leader’s record in democracy during his time as prime minister.
Najib’s nine-year rule was tainted by the 1MDB scandal, which saw him accused of channelling over US$700 million (about RM2.6 billion) from the strategic development company to his personal bank accounts.
In 2015, Najib’s administration cut short a multi-agency investigation into the scandal, followed by the removal of the attorney-general.
Investigations were reopened by Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government in 2018, with authorities confiscating close to RM1 billion worth of cash and luxury items kept at several properties linked to Najib.
Last year, the High Court found Najib guilty of seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power related to SRC International, and sentenced him to 12 years in jail. He is appealing against the conviction.
Farhira Farudin contributed to this report.