EC’s Azhar resigns ahead of Dewan Rakyat sitting

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE Election Commission Malaysia’s (EC) has confirmed that Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun (picture) has tendered his resignation as its chairman on June 29, 2020, two weeks before the second sitting of this year’s Parliament session.

The commission, in a statement yesterday, stated that the resignation has been conveyed to Istana Negara, addressing Yang di-Pertuan Agong on June 30.

Azhar will be replaced by Dr Azmi Sharon as the acting chairman until further notice.

“In accordance with Article 114(7) of the Federal Constitution, Azmi, as the deputy chairman of EC will execute the chairman’s duty until the new chairman is appointed,” EC said.

Azhar was appointed as the commission’s chairman in September 2018, by the Pakatan Harapan administration following the departure of Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah.

“The EC wishes to express its appreciation to Azhar for his contribution and service,” it said.

Once known for his vocal remarks and activism on issues where politics and law meet, Azhar had plans to steer changes at the EC including lowering the voting age from the current 21 years old to 18 years old (Undi18).

According to recent reports, the Perikatan Nasional government has proposed Azhar and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman for the posts of the Dewan Rakyat Speaker and the deputy respectively.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is scheduled to move for Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming to vacate their positions for Azhar’s and Azalina’s nominations respectively on July 13, according to an Order Paper issued to all MPs.

The move is considered as an unprecedented one as the Speaker is usually replaced due to a vacancy as a result of death or incapacitated, or if the Speaker voluntarily resigns from his post.

Article 57(2) stated the Speaker can only vacate his office by resigning. In layman’s terms, a Speaker usually resigns when Parliament dissolves for a general election, or when he ceases to be a member of the house (either he is not an MP or the Parliament has been dissolved for elections).