Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan has withdrawn his candidacy for deputy speaker, Bernama reported today, hours after the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition said it would not support any constitutional amendments to provide for a third such position in the Dewan Rakyat.
Speaking at a press conference at the Parliament building today, he said the decision was to allow him to focus more on his duties as Umno secretary-general, especially during the ongoing political uncertainty.
He also said he wanted more freedom to voice his opinions in the Dewan Rakyat.
“I love giving opinions. If I were to sit in the deputy speaker’ chair, what can I really say? Just telling people to sit, to leave… my active function (as MP) cannot be performed,” he said.
He said he had notified law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and speaker Azhar Harun of his decision earlier today.
MalaysiaNow previously reported that Umno leaders aligned with former prime minister Najib Razak were pushing for Ahmad to be given the post of deputy speaker following the resignation of Azalina Othman Said in August.
Ahmad himself was said to have agreed, with Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz saying the Pontian MP would be the candidate of the government bloc for the post of deputy speaker.
But concern had been voiced over the prospect of obtaining the support of government MPs, especially from PN.
PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin had made it clear that his coalition would not back individuals facing criminal charges for any role in the administration.
While Ahmad was recently acquitted of a money laundering charge, MalaysiaNow reported early this month that the six PN parties had decided not to support Umno’s plan to nominate him for the post of deputy speaker.
Ahmad, among the staunchest supporters of former prime minister Najib Razak’s attempts to dislodge the PN-led government in August, had 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.