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Azalina was the first woman to be appointed deputy speaker in the Dewan Rakyat in July last year under the Perikatan Nasional government. — Bernama pic
Azalina was the first woman to be appointed deputy speaker in the Dewan Rakyat in July last year under the Perikatan Nasional government. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — The next deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker should be an Opposition MP if the government wants to show its commitment to bipartisanship, Umno’s Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said today.

The Pengerang MP made the suggestion in a talk on parliamentary reform hosted by the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on South-east Asia earlier today when asked what lawmakers could do to encourage further cooperation between the government and Opposition.

“[I] should be replaced by an Opposition member, but the motion must be by the government.

“This is the best opportunity for the prime minister to offer that as a gesture and get the ball rolling.

“This is something that is achievable. If the government does that, and it is supported unanimously for example, I think it would be fantastic for Malaysia’s parliamentary history, because we are showing a gesture that we want Parliament to be a professional platform,” she was quoted as saying by news portal Free Malaysia Today.

Azalina was the first woman to be appointed deputy speaker in the Dewan Rakyat in July last year under the Perikatan Nasional government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

She resigned from the post days ago, after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appointed Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the new prime minister.

In a statement last Monday, Azalina disclosed the reason for her resignation being to make room for institutional reform.

“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 wrote then.

In today’s talk, the Umno lawmaker also suggested an even distribution of members in parliamentary committees as further commitment to institutional reform.

She noted that while the Public Accounts Committee is chaired by an Opposition MP, the majority of its members are government backbenchers.

Ismail was sworn in as Malaysia’s ninth prime minister last Saturday and has reached out to the Opposition for bipartisan support to address the country’s worsening Covid-19 crisis that has devastated the economy.

Following a rare meeting with Pakatan Harapan leaders yesterday, Ismail and the Opposition coalition both issued statements promising to work together to strengthen Parliament, ensure judicial independence and establish institutional reforms.

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