G25 said today it was deeply concerned by Pakatan Harapan's choice for Dewan Rakyat speaker, which PKR sources have confirmed as Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul.
The group of ex-civil servants said the choice was “worrying” given Johari’s previous roles as director of the National Civics Bureau (BTN) and PKR parliamentary whip.
"Johari is a former BTN director, a government agency which has been heavily criticised in the past.
"More worryingly, Johari was the former PKR whip in Parliament – a role of such express partisanship certainly does not sit well with the post of Dewan Rakyat speaker which must be neutral above all else," it said in a statement.
G25 added that there were other candidates who were eminently qualified to become Dewan Rakyat speaker, naming retired Court of Appeal judges Mohd Hishamudin Yunus and Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as examples.
Both Hishamudin and Ariff, it added, have an impeccable track record for carrying out their duties fairly.
However, such an appointment would violate Harapan's election manifesto, which had pledged that the speaker would be appointed from within members of the house.
The manifesto also promised that the Dewan Rakyat speaker should retire from partisan politics.
"To ensure that their decisions are fair, a special committee will be formed to receive and examine complaints from MPs," the manifesto reads.
According to G25, speakers in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons commonly resign from their parties and remain separate from political issues even in retirement.
"G25 reiterates the crucial and immediate need to reform Parliament. Parliament is the third arm of government and cannot be treated like a political football field.
"The Dewan Rakyat speaker is its epicentre and plays a crucial role in restoring the dignity of Parliament to its former glory.
"We do not wish for a weak Parliament anymore, which merely rubber-stamps the wishes of the executive. Malaysians deserve a vibrant and effective check against the executive," it said.
The group also stressed that Harapan must show it is serious in reforming Parliament.
"G25, therefore, urges Pakatan Harapan to reconsider its choice for Dewan Rakyat speaker and to nominate other candidates who are better suited to reform Parliament.”
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