Thursday 19 February 2009

Perak Crisis Deepens: BN-Installed MB Zambry and his Excos Suspended from State Assembly

Read here for more in Malaysiakini

Perak state assembly speaker V Sivakumar after the Special Privileges Committee's inquiry proceeding in Ipoh this afternoon, said the committee today suspended the state's newly-minted menteri besar Zambry Abdul Kadir and all his six executive councillors.Zambry was slapped with an 18-month suspension while the excos have been suspended for 12 months.

By suspending seven of the BN's 28 state assemblypersons, the numbers have again tilted back to the former Pakatan Rakyat government. Should the state assembly be reconvened now, it is almost certain that the seven suspended representatives would not be allowed into the assembly, allowing Pakatan to have an edge of 28 seats against BN's 24.

"I have decided to bar Datuk Zambry with immediate effect from attending any assembly session for the next 18 months and the six exco members have also been barred for 12 months," read the four-paragraph statement from Perak Speaker Sivakumar.

Sivakumar, a DAP state assemblyperson, is still the Perak speaker as the BN government has yet to convene the state assembly to replace him with one of their own. Sivakumar said the decision was reached because the seven had failed to provide an explanation for their contempt of the state assembly by declaring themselves menteri besar and excos.

Lawyer Benjamin Dawson said the best option to unlock the current stalemate would be to dissolve the state assembly and hold a fresh state election. But this, he added, must have the sultan's consent.

By convention, he said Malaysians will have to wait for the court decision on the suit filed by Pakatan Rakyat's ousted menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin challenging Zambry's appointment.

Dawson said unless the court rules in Nizar's favour, Zambry is presumed to be menteri besar. He said.

"This is not a constitutional crisis but it involves the tactical aspect in politics.

Nizar has sought to declare Zambry's appointment unlawful under Article 16 of the Perak constitution and there is basis."

Transparency International Malaysia chairperson Ramon Navaratnam said when the crisis started early this month, the right and proper way was to call for fresh elections. He added,

"All these irregularities and contradictory decisions underscore the importance of a democracy which is to respect the will and power of the people.

Power comes from the people and leaders should be elected and dismissed by the people.

All decisions on the constitutionality of any government should rely on the PEOPLE."

A full scale election should be held to show that democracy is at work. Government and legislature must be held accountable for its action.

People have the sovereign right to exercise their democratic right in this scenario."


Legal Expert Says Perak Speaker Has Suspension Powers

Excerpts: Read here for more in Malaysian Insider

Abdul Aziz Bari, a law professor at the International Islamic University said the Perak Speaker acted within his powers when he barred Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and six executive councillors from the next sitting of the state legislature.

He said the Speaker’s authority covers a very wide area in matters involving the assembly’s regulations.“That includes the finality on the interpretation of provisions in the Standing Orders, the rules which govern the House,” he said.

Abdul Aziz observed that at the federal level, the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat has previously made some “absurd and illogical decisions — rejecting motions and suspending members, among others. Now it is the turn of the BN to taste that,” he noted.

Abdul Aziz said that Nizar has a right to stake his claim in court as it is based on the “dubious position of Zambry’s government”.

He added that the state government “owes its position” to the MAJORITY in the legislative assembly.

“This is the problem as we are not sure whether Zambry’s got that,” the professor said.

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