There is no conflict of interest in Azalina Othman Said chairing Dewan Rakyat sittings while she is the special adviser to the prime minister, says speaker Azhar Harun.
Azhar said the special adviser position held by the Pengerang MP does not include ministerial status and as such, Azalina is not part of the administration or the executive.
“… she will only advise the prime minister and not the government according to her knowledge and wisdom.
“Since she is not an executive member, I do not see any problem in my request for (Azalina) to chair any parliamentary sitting or meeting.
“During the parliamentary sitting, as long as she does not have to make any ruling on matters related to her portfolio, I do not think there is a conflict of interest,” he said.
Azhar added that if Azalina is required to make a ruling related to her position as the prime minister’s special adviser when chairing a sitting, the Pengerang MP would be asked to recuse herself.
“If she (Azalina) is in a conflict of interest situation, I am sure she will recuse herself and I will instruct her to do so,” he said.
Azhar was responding to a question from Wong Hon Wai (PH-Bukit Bendera) on the position of Azalina who was asked to chair the sitting in accordance with Article 7(3) of the Rules of the Dewan Rakyat sitting.
Earlier, when Azalina chaired the winding up session of the 12th Malaysia Plan for the defence ministry, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Kulim Bandar Baharu) and Wong questioned her position which they said could be perceived as a conflict of interest following her appointment as special adviser to the prime minister.
Azalina however asked the MPs to refer the matter to Azhar as he had invited her to chair the sitting temporarily in accordance with Standing Order 7(3).