Azalina Resigns As Deputy Speaker Over Conflict Of Interest & Violation Of Her Principles

To ensure political impartiality, the UMNO Supreme Council member hopes that the future Speakers and Deputy Speakers will not be someone holding any political party posts.

Cover image via Free Malaysia Today

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Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has confirmed that she has resigned as the Deputy Speaker of Dewan Rakyat as it was difficult for her to stay impartial as a UMNO member

In a press statement published on her social media accounts this morning, 24 August, Azalina gave four reasons for her decision to step down from the post.

Among them is the conflict of responsibility of being the deputy speaker while also being a UMNO Supreme Council member and a member of Parliament (MP) under the ruling government, a combination which she said challenged her moral capacity.

"Past events have revealed conflicting decisions within UMNO as a party and MPs of a coalition government," she wrote.

"In future, speakers and deputy speakers of Dewan Rakyat should be suspended from any political party posts to ensure political impartiality, which is a key feature of the office, so he or she can effectively function without fear or favour."

She added that the decision to resign is also because of her personal values system and the concern of her professional integrity

"The developments in the past 17 months have led me to reflect on the institutional defects of our Parliamentary institutions and my own limitations to discharge my duty well in such a setting without compromising my professional integrity," she continued.

"My personal value system pertaining to the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, as well as check-and-balance since the Emergency Proclamation in January 2021 has been consistent."

"My frustration and distress are public knowledge, and the reasons known. My official capacity is warranted by law and process, which is to uphold the Federal Constitution and Standing Orders of Dewan Rakyat at all costs."

Azalina, who is the first female deputy speaker in Malaysia's history, wishes that her resignation could "reset" the Parliament

"In closing, with the appointment of the new Prime Minister, and the public's loud and clear demand for multiparty cooperation, I have tendered my resignation today to vacate my seat so that the Government and the Opposition may have more room to reset our Dewan Rakyat so that this august House can truly function as a forum for professional competition and collaboration between parties on policies and governance," her statement read.

"I will support any reforms the Government and the Opposition may want to move in their collective wisdom. It has been a great honour and privilege to serve as deputy speaker, an office that I sincerely respect, for the past 13 months."

Azalina — who is a politician vocal about women's issues — also mentioned the lack of consultation and joint decision-making that impacted her performance during her stint, as the Standing Order stipulated that the deputy speaker cannot make his or her own ruling in Dewan Rakyat.

"Shared decision making and responsibility, impartiality, fairness, and mutual respect are the key elements which I wish to see in the Malaysian Parliament," she said.

Earlier this month, Malaysiakini reported based on sources that Azalina was expected to quit as the Deputy Speaker because she was frustrated with Parliament being hamstrung by Putrajaya.

Azalina's reflection on her role is a stark contrast to the action of Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, who is a frequent subject of criticism.

In the past, members of the Opposition accused Azizan of being a "government lapdog" and often criticised him for not making rulings that are unfavourable to the MPs in the ruling government, such as when he let off Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul with just an apology following the former's rude remark targeted at Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto, among others.

Read Azalina's full statement below:

During the Perikatan Nasional administration, it was not uncommon to see disputes between MPs and the Speaker or Deputy Speaker in Dewan Rakyat: