MPs can replace speaker, but what’s the motive, say experts

A motion has been submitted to remove the speaker, Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, and his deputy, Nga Kor Ming.

PETALING JAYA: Two constitutional experts say there is nothing unconstitutional about Muhyididin Yassin’s motion to remove the Dewan Rakyat speaker and his deputy, contrary to a claim by a former law minister.

Constitutional lawyer Bastion Pius Vendargon said on the “face of it”, any MP has the right to file a motion to remove the speaker, which should then be considered and dealt with in the usual way.

“Just because the MP for Pagoh is also the leader of the house as well as the prime minister, head of executive, per se may not be interference by the executive in the legislature,” he told FMT.

Vendargon said Muhyiddin as Pagoh MP was “wearing a different hat” from his role as prime minister.

Yesterday, former law minister Liew Vui Keong had said that Muhyiddin’s move was unacceptable for being unconstitutional and “flying in the face of our Federal Constitution, breaching the doctrine of separation of powers”.

Muhyiddin seeks to remove both the speaker, Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, and his deputy, Nga Kor Ming.

Liew also alleged that Muhyiddin was seeking to evade a no-confidence motion that might be brought against him next month.

Lim Wei Jiet, the deputy chair for the Bar Council’s constitutional law committee, said any attempt by an MP to remove a speaker was not unconstitutional.

He said Article 57(2) of the constitution states that a speaker shall resign “if the House so resolves”.

The more pertinent question was why the Perikatan Nasional government under Muhyiddin was taking this action.

“We can easily deduce that this is an attempt to install a speaker who would be pliant to the government of the day, and hopefully prevent any motion of no confidence from ever reaching the floor for a vote,” he said.

However, another constitutional lawyer, Dominic Puthucheary, said that while he has not seen the motion, there must be a legitimate reason to remove the speaker, such as a conflict of interest or other serious infringements.

However, a speaker could not be removed for personal reasons or over a disagreement, he said. “Removal of a speaker for extraneous reasons is unconstitutional”, which would be the case if Ariff was removed because of the confidence motion as suggested by Liew.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad submitted a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin, which was accepted by the speaker.

Puthucheary said tabling a motion of no confidence is a constitutional right.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.