The six parties in Perikatan Nasional (PN) have decided not to support a plan by Umno to nominate Ahmad Maslan for the post of deputy speaker despite the Pontian MP’s recent acquittal of a money laundering charge, MalaysiaNow has learnt.
The coalition is also against a proposal to create a third deputy speaker’s post to accommodate an MP from the opposition.
The decision was reached during a top leadership meeting chaired by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin last night.
A source familiar with the discussions said the decision not to back Ahmad was in keeping with PN’s principle that it would not support any leader tainted by criminal cases for senior posts.
“The fact remains that Ahmad Maslan was acquitted because he paid the compound,” the source said.
Ahmad, among the staunchest supporters of former prime minister Najib Razak’s attempts to dislodge the PN-led government in August, paid a RM1.1 million compound slapped on him by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which the anti-graft body said was a form of asset recovery.
The prosecution subsequently withdrew two charges against him, that of money laundering for failing to declare money he had received, and another for giving false statements to MACC.
MACC had named Ahmad as among 80 entities and individuals which it said had received money linked to 1MDB.
Ahmad is also part of the group aligned with Najib who form the so-called “court cluster MPs”, due to the multiple corruption and criminal charges stacked against them.
Following his resignation in August, Muhyiddin had voiced PN’s support for Umno’s Ismail Sabri Yaakob as his replacement but on condition that the Cabinet would not include individuals facing criminal charges in court.
The source said that while PN’s stand against supporting Ahmad might not apply to the deputy speaker’s post, it was “in keeping with the spirit of the ‘no-court cluster’ principle”.
One of the two positions of deputy speaker had been left vacant since the resignation of Umno’s Azalina Othman Said, another MP who sided with Najib in bringing down Muhyiddin’s government.
By current convention, the vacancy is to be filled by a ruling MP, although opposition MPs are expected to back DAP’s Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming, who is eyeing a return to the post he once held under the Pakatan Harapan government.
Last month, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar indicated that a third deputy speaker’s post could be created in order to accommodate an opposition MP.
The announcement fuelled speculation of Ahmad’s election to the post, which Umno had expected to gain the support of all ruling MPs.