Updated at 4:58pm
A pensive Nizar waits inside the courtroom for the hearing to recommence after an adjournment for lunch
KUALA LUMPUR, 21 May 2009: At 9.30am the Court of Appeal started hearing Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir’s appeal against the High Court ruling that Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is the rightful Perak menteri besar.
The court started hearing Zambry’s appeal before hearing Nizar’s application to set aside the stay of execution it granted to Zambry on the High Court ruling.
Nizar, 52, was appointed menteri besar on 17 March last year after the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won 31 seats in the 12th general election.
He was ousted after the Zambry was sworn in as Perak menteri besar on 6 Feb. This was following the BN takeover of the state government, precipitated by the defection of three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblypersons who had opted to become BN-friendly independents, leading to the PR losing its majority in the state assembly.
Nizar sought an audience with the sultan of Perak on 5 Feb to request the dissolution of the state assembly, but was turned down and instead ordered to step down as menteri besar. Subsequently, Nizar filed a suit against Zambry.
On 13 Feb, Nizar filed a judicial review and sought a declaration from the courts that he is at all material times the menteri besar of Perak. He also sought a declaration that Zambry has no right to hold the office of menteri besar.
On 11 May, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that Nizar was the rightful menteri besar of Perak. High Court (Appellate and Special Powers Division) judge Datuk Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim ruled that there was no provision in the state constitution for the menteri besar to be fired or for the post to be vacant in the event that the menteri besar refused to resign.
However, on 12 May, the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya granted Zambry a stay of execution on the High Court decision.
The next day, Nizar applied to the same court to set aside the stay order.
4.58pm: Court adjourns. Defers judgement on Zambry’s appeal till tomorrow after Friday prayers.
4.29pm: Zambry’s counsel Datuk Cecil Abraham begins his submission. He states that despite lacuna in Article 16 (6) of the Perak state constitution, judges must reinterpret and decide whether it holds if a vote in the house is indeed the only way to determine majority confidence of MB.
4.21pm: Another counsel for Nizar, Ranjit Singh sumbits that Nizar’s state of mind at the time he wrote to the Perak Sultan seeking a dissolution of the state assembly on 4 Feb was to resolve deadlock and not because he had lost majority confidence.
3.57pm:Sulaiman submits that the provision that the MB does not hold office at the pleasure of the sultan was not addressed by Zambry’s lawyers.
3:18pm: Sulaiman cites the Stephen Kalong Ningkan 1996 case that the chief minister cannot be removed even if he loses majority confidence. Because of this judgment, the Federal government imposed emergency rule in Sarawak as there was no other solution.
2.30pm: Nizar’s lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah began his submission at 2.30pm. He is going through other cases for precedents that the MB cannot be dismissed or his office deemed vacant unless after a vote of no-confidence by the assembly.
1:13pm: Gani wraps up his submission that because Nizar has already lost the majority, Article 16(6) of the State Constitution requires his resignation, failing which his office and that of the executive councillors are deemed vacated. The court has taken a break and will resume at 2pm.
12:31pm: Gani says it follows that there is no need for a vote of no-confidence to be taken in the assembly to determine if Nizar has lost the majority’s confidence. The fact is that he has already lost his majority.
12:24pm: Case intervener, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, is now submitting that Nizar’s request for dissolution, based on the 28-28 deadlock, is a self-admission that he lacks the majority’s confidence.
11:41am: Zambry’s lawyer, Datuk Cecil Abraham, is submitting that the Perak Constitution has no provision requiring a vote of no confidence to determine if Nizar should resign. A three-person bench of judges is hearing Zambry’s appeal.