KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — There is no conflict of interest in Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said chairing Dewan Rakyat sittings while she is the special adviser to the Prime Minister, said speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.
Azhar said the special adviser position held by the Pengerang Member of Parliament is not a ministerial status and as such, Azalina is not part of the administration or the executive.
“… she will only advise the Prime Minister and not the government according to her knowledge and wisdom.
“Since she is not an executive member, then I do not see any problem in my request for (Azalina) to chair any parliamentary sitting or meeting.
“During the parliamentary sitting, as long as she does not have to make any ruling on matters related to her portfolio, I do not think there is a conflict of interest,” he said.
Azhar further stressed that if Azalina is required to make a ruling related to her position as the Prime Minister’s special adviser when chairing a sitting, the Pengerang MP would be asked to recuse herself.
“If she (Azalina) is in a conflict of interest situation, I am sure she will recuse herself and I will instruct her to do so,” he said.
Azhar was responding to a question from Wong Hon Wai (PH-Bukit Bendera) on Azalina’s position who was asked to chair the sitting in accordance with Article 7(3) of the Rules of the Dewan Rakyat sitting.
Earlier, when Azalina chaired the winding up session of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) for the Defence Ministry, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Kulim Bandar Baharu) and Wong questioned her position as temporary deputy speaker which could be perceived as a conflict of interest following Azalina’s appointment as special adviser to the Prime Minister.
Azalina, however, requested the two MPs to refer the matter to Azhar as he had invited her to chair the sitting temporarily in accordance with Standing Order 7(3).