KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today insisted that the appointment letter for Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as the new Dewan Rakyat speaker had been prepared earlier, adding that the walkout by opposition MPs at the Parliament this morning was a “sandiwara” (play acting).
The prime minister also defended the move to appoint Ariff to the post, despite Pakatan Harapan’s promise in its election manifesto to appoint a speaker from among the elected MPs.
“Please remember that the manifesto is not a bible. It’s a guide. Sometimes we can do things, sometimes we find that we cannot. So we need to be practical,” he told reporters at Parliament today, adding that the public would like someone who was non-partisan to chair Dewan Rakyat sessions.
He questioned criticism by Umno and other opposition MPs who claimed that Ariff’s appointment was not according to procedure, and that Parliament had not been served a two-week notice as required.
“For the first time, the ex-prime minister walks out. So we know what it means when somebody walks out,” said Mahathir, adding that their action was only a “sandiwara”.
MPs including former prime minister Najib Razak and current Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had earlier walked out of the Dewan Rakyat in protest, saying Ariff’s appointment was not in accordance with the standing orders.
Only Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin and Kimanis MP Anifah Aman remained in the Dewan.