PETALING JAYA, 8 May 2009: Civil society groups have have cried foul over the legality of the Perak assembly sitting yesterday and the conduct of the police in the matter.
Both human rights movement Aliran and the Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) also condemned the manner in which the sitting was conducted.
“There was no need to have pushed for this sitting of the assembly when the status and legitimacy of (Datuk) Zambry (Abdul Kadir) as Perak menteri besar is still in question.
“This very crucial issue had not been legally settled, and yet the Umno assembly[persons] could not wait for the resolution,” said Aliran president P Ramakrishnan in a statement yesterday.
He said it was not even clear that the assembly had been convened legally and legitimately for the Barisan Nasional motions (to remove speaker V Sivakumar, elect Datuk R Ganesan as the new speaker, and change the membership of three committees) to be tabled and adopted.
“The shouting matches and ensuing scuffles as well as the removal by force of the speaker were most regrettable,” said Navaratnam in a statement today.
He added that it painted a very poor image of Malaysia at home and on the international stage.
Ramakrishnan slammed BN politicians for reducing the much respected state assembly to the “law of the jungle”.
He said prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be held responsible for “this pandemonium” by orchestrating the BN’s takeover of the Perak government in February 2009, which he described as “a shameful way of acquiring power through brute force.”
He also accused the police of siding with the BN assemblypersons to help them take control of the assembly, and blasted them for acting in a high-handed manner by arresting people who did not pose any real threats to national security.
“On what basis did the sergeant-at-arms and the police forcefully and physically act to evict the lawful speaker of the assembly in this outrageous manner? Isn’t the assembly out of bounds for the police to walk in and act in this atrocious way?” questioned Ramakrishnan.
Similarly, Navaratnam took the police to task for their intervention in the Perak assembly sitting, saying it was “unacceptable and illegal”.
“Furthermore, the harassment and mass arrest of protesters is a violation of human rights, specifically the freedom of expression, which is guaranteed in our constitution,” added Navaratnam.
He urged the police to exercise greater restraint when facing dissent and to respect the principles of human rights, the Federal Constitution as well as the rule of law.
The CPPS also called for fresh elections to end the current political stalemate in Perak.
“[We] believe that it is time to go back to the polls and allow the rakyat, who governments ultimately serve, to elect their leadership in a free and fair election. Only through fresh elections can we hope to move forward…”
“This is important not only for Perakians but all Malaysians as the future of our democracy is at stake,” said Ramon.