Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun has urged Anwar Ibrahim and other politicians to stop politicising the issues surrounding the re-convening of Parliament proceedings, after the opposition chief claimed that the speaker’s office was being used by the government to delay the reopening of Parliament.
In a strongly worded response, Azhar described Anwar’s claim as baseless, adding that the Port Dickson MP as a veteran politician and former deputy prime minister should be aware of the provisions of the Federal Constitution as well as the Standing Orders on the matter.
“Anwar should wake up from his self-induced nightmare that the whole world is conspiring against him and his interests,” Azhar said in a statement to MalaysiaNow, adding that the recent initiative by he and his counterpart in the Dewan Negara, Rais Yatim, to have hybrid parliament proceedings should not be politicised.
Anwar today claimed there were attempts to delay the reopening of Parliament, a day after Attorney-General Idrus Harun issued a statement to explain the powers of the Agong in calling for Parliament to reconvene.
Idrus had said that the Agong was still bound by the advice of the Cabinet in discharging his official duties, echoing similar views given in recent days by prominent members of the judiciary.
Anwar said any move to delay the Agong’s call to reconvene the Dewan Rakyat was tantamount to disobeying the palace.
He also spoke of attempts by the Perikatan Nasional government to use the speaker’s office to delay the reopening of Parliament.
“I categorically deny Anwar’s baseless allegation that the government had in any way used Parliament or my office to delay the reconvening of Parliament,” Azhar said in response to Anwar’s latest statement.
“I would like to state again that the constitutional framework does not empower me to reconvene Parliament.”
He also said he was ready to discharge his duties as speaker as soon as the Agong summons Parliament based on the provisions in the Federal Constitution.
“I am ready to hold the meeting, even if it is tonight,” he added.
Azhar said Anwar and other MPs were free to reject the recent proposal for a hybrid sitting.
“We are just trying to offer this facility in order to lower the risk of contracting Covid-19 and dying from it for MPs and other officers and civil servants who would come to Parliament, as well as their families.
“If Anwar and other MPs feel otherwise, I am completely okay with it.”
‘Attempt to create conflict with palace’
Meanwhile, Azhar said he was saddened by a claim by DAP’s Nga Kor Ming accusing him of defying the Agong’s decree, saying it was a clear attempt at creating a wedge between his office and Istana Negara.
“I have never at any time defied or attempted to defy Tuanku Agong’s wishes. Never at any time did I say that Parliament should not convene as soon as possible, and I don’t know how or why Nga arrived at that conclusion,” Azhar said.
Nga, the Teluk Intan MP who served as a deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat during Pakatan Harapan’s rule, said the proposal by Azhar and Rais that Parliament could reopen after several legal and technical issues were ironed out had publicly undermined the role of Parliament as a check and balance for the government.
“Instead of respecting the Agong, it was shocking to see the Senate president and speaker of the Dewan Rakyat issuing a joint statement yesterday stating that they need time to study the mechanism of how to reconvene Parliament sittings,” Nga said.
Azhar said on the contrary, he had fought for Nga and other opposition MPs to be part of the working committee to discuss the terms of the hybrid parliamentary proceedings.
“It is obvious that my efforts count for nothing,” he added.