Was the failure to submit the new Speaker’s name 14 days before Dewan Rakyat convened, fatal?

The opposition MPs protested that the Speaker’s appointment was invalid. They walked out of Parliament. After all that drama, lemming-like, they all trooped back: and took their oath before the very same Speaker. What was that about? You tell me.

Was the failure to submit the new Speaker’s name 14 days before Dewan Rakyat convened, fatal?

Was there a failure to submit the name of the sole candidate to the position of Yang di-Pertua–Dato’ Mohamad Ariff Bin Md Yusof–to the  Setiausaha  of the Dewan Rakyat within 14 days, of any consequence?

If ‘No’, then there was nothing to protest about.

If ‘Yes’, so what?

Starting Point 

The starting point is to look at the rules that govern the Dewan Rakyat.  They are called ‘Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat’.

The Standing Orders are made under Article 62 of the Federal Constitution.   This is why at the opening paragraph of Standing Orders there is an explicit statement to the effect that: –

‘These Standing Orders are made by the Dewan Rakyat,in pursuance of Article 62(1) of the Federal Constitution’.

In other words, the Standing Orders must comply with the overarching principles set out in Article 62.

Article 62 of the Federal Constitution

So what does Article 62 of the Federal Constitution say?

Clause 1 of Article 62 states:

‘Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and of federal law, each House of Parliament shall regulate its own procedure.’

What this means is that the Dewan Rakyat–if a majority of its members agree–can do what it likes as far as House rules go.  That is the meaning of the phrase, ‘… each House… shall regulate its own procedure.’  It is ‘by a simple majority’ because Clause (3) of Article 62 states that, ‘each House shall… take its decision by a simple majority of members voting…’.

The Courts cannot interfere.

The Administration cannot interfere.

Each component of the government (with a lowercase ‘g’) regulates itself.  That is the nature of the separation of powers and the rule of law.

How is the Speaker to be elected?

How must the Speaker be elected?  What do the Standing Orders say?

Order 4 sets out the procedure.  It says: –

  1. The procedure for the election of a Yang di-Pertua shall be as follows:

(1)     Every member who wishes to propose a person who is either a member of the House or is qualified for election… as Yang di-Pertua… shall notify the Setiausaha of his proposal in writing at least fourteen days before the meeting.’

Opposition’s Complaint

The Opposition’s complaint is that the Setiausahawas not notified of the new candidate’s name 14 days before the Dewan Rakyatconvened. And therefore, pointing to a breach of Order 4, all but two of the opposition MPs staged a walkout.

Most of these people who walked out were experienced MPs. You would have thought that they would have known of the contents of the Standing Orders inside out.

Order 99A

Yet two Opposition MPs, Khairy Jamaluddin and  Anifah Aman sat in.  Why was that?

This is the second point. They must have realised the existence of Standing Order 99A which states: –

‘Where in making any decision there has been a failure on the part of the House… to comply with any provision of the Standing Order in the proceeding leading to the decision, such failure shall be treated as an irregularity and shall not nullify the proceedings or the decision resulting therefrom.’

Is it not true that the selection of the Speaker was in law, ‘a proceeding’ of Parliament?

Assuming the opposition MPs correctly allege that the  Setiausaha  did not receive the nomination of the Speaker 14 days before the first meeting of Parliament, does not Standing Order 99A resolve the problem?

Is the Setiausaha complaining?

Third, is the Setiausaha, Datuk Roosme Hamzah complaining of any breach of procedure?  Did she refuse to accept the nomination?  If the Setiausaha herself is not complaining why the fuss?  [She seems to have said to FMT that she had received the nomination on July 02, 2018]. Today is July 16th.

How many days are there in between? You decide.

Alternatively, assume, for a moment, there is a breach. So what?

There is a Standing Order 99A which ‘repairs’ any breach complained of.  The result of the application of Order 99A to this ‘alleged’ problem is that it is as if no such error or breach had occurred in the first place.

Fourth, assuming that Standing Order 99A is inapplicable, then what of the overarching principle housed in the Federal Constitution itself, in Article 62 (1)?

Article 62(1) states that: –

‘… each House of Parliament shall regulate its own procedure’.

The House has elected the Speaker.  End of story.

There is one further Standing Order that the opposition MPs forgot.

It is Order 4(3) which states: –

‘if only one member or person be so proposed and seconded as Yang di-Pertuahe shall be declared by the secretary without question put, to have been elected.’

How many persons were proposed to the Parliament this morning?

Only one.

If more persons had been proposed–and seconded – then there is some ground for debate.  Such a circumstance it will then activate the second part of Order 4(3) which states, ‘if more than one member or person be so proposed and seconded the House shall proceed to elect a Yang di-Pertuaby ballot.’.

But there was only one proposal.

So there was no necessity to call upon the second part of Order 4 (3).

So I wonder:

The Speaker is a Malay.

He is a Muslim.

He is highly qualified.

Why did the opposition MPs walk out in protest?

Beats me.

If they had thought that that the Speaker’s election was bad in law, why did the lot of them troop back in, to be sworn in before the very same Speaker?

This is the  question human rightist Haris Ibrahim asks in his blog  The People’s Parliament.

Beats me.



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