IPOH, 11 Feb 2009: Embattled Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is willing to brave a no-confidence vote in the state legislative assembly, deeming it the only other legitimate way to end the impasse of the state, short of having fresh elections.
Nizar said Pakatan Rakyat will remain as the state government until it is given formal notice that it has ceased to be in charge of the state through dissolution of the assembly, or through a no-confidence vote by all legislators.
Entrance to the MB’s residence is guarded by PAS’ Unit Amal security personnel
It has not received anything in writing since 5 Feb when the Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak announced his rejection of elections in favour of Barisan Nasional (BN) forming the state government.
Nizar said when either a no-confidence vote or dissolution of the assembly is exercised, only then will it become untenable for him and his executive councillors (exco) to claim that they are the legitimate state government.
In addition to these two scenarios, Nizar could also resign but he has steadfastly refused and remains holed up in the Menteri Besar’s official residence which is guarded by PAS’s Unit Amal security unit.
“We will continue till some appropriate time when we will have to determine whether it’s feasible for us to go on. There is still no formal cessation of my role as MB and of my exco. There is no formal document to say that from now onwards, you are no more the menteri besar, that you are no more the exco. We’d like to see some formal, documented proof.
“And the only proof that is constitutional is when you dissolve the state assembly, or when you have vote of no confidence in the assembly, or if I resign. Until and unless that happens, we are still legitimate,” Nizar said in an interview at the MB’s residence today.
He said that he was prepared if in the next state assembly sitting, scheduled for April, BN were to move a motion of no-confidence against him.
“If there is such a motion, let’s debate it, and we’ll abide with whatever the outcome,” said Nizar, who is the Pasir Panjang assemblyperson.
Stalement in Perak
In contrast the new Barisan Nasional state government appears content to let the stalemate continue as it considers itself the legal government following the Sultan’s decision.
BN’s MB Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir, who was sworn in on 6 Feb before the Sultan, evaded the issue at his press conference today when he reported for work at the state secretariat building.
BN and Pakatan each have 28 legislators in the 59-seat assembly, with BN having the majority through support of three “friendly” independents who deserted Pakatan Rakyat.
Banner at the MB’s residence appealing the Sultan to dissolve the state assembly
Nizar said he wrote to the Sultan on 6 Feb seeking an audience together with the Pakatan Rakyat central leadership comprising of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.
The leadership wants to explain to the palace Nizar’s request for dissolution of the assembly to let Perakians choose their government.
Nizar also clarified that the suit he is filing is not to declare the BN government as illegal, but to seek a court declaration that Pakatan is the rightful government. It has been widely reported as the former.
“We’re not bothered with others — we want to be declared as legal,” he said.
Compiling documents and formulating legal arguments for this case is being given top priority, even above the selection of a candidate for the impending Bukit Gantang by-election.
In the interview, Nizar also spoke about how pressure is continuing on some Pakatan Rakyat representatives to defect, and why he continues holding exco meetings. He also rebuts accusations by ultra-Malay Malaysian quarters that Pakatan’s government was Chinese-dominated by pointing out that the new BN government is not representative of Perak’s population.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
Why do you continue holding exco meetings when you know civil servants cannot implement your decisions now that BN’s government has come in?
Nizar: We do so because it is our responsibility as the legitimate government.
Isn’t it futile?
I don’t think so. If at all, the state assembly is dissolved and we win again through elections, we can refer back to the decisions we’ve made.
After all that has happened, are you still confident of all your other Pakatan assemblypersons?
Some are under pressure, I hope they continue to withstand. But we are closer and more unified when pressure is put on us. In particular, some of our Indian Malaysian assemblypersons are being pressured by external forces. Some are threatened if they don’t crossover. We are asking them to lodge police reports.
We have five Indian assemblypersons. (Hutan Melintang, Buntong, Tronoh, Malim Nawar, and Sungkai.) Some of them.
Because the Sultan is involved, will the Perak crisis cause Pakatan Rakyat to lose Malay support?
I’ve explained to Tuanku that my request for dissolution will give higher respect for Tuanku and the palace institution. I’m going back to the rule of law so that Tuanku will be respected in Perak, throughout the whole nation and the Commonwealth for giving the rakyat the right to decide. Umno blames me for disrespecting the palace, but I’m actually giving back dignity and grace to the palace so that it won’t be seen as taking sides. It is Umno that has disgraced the palace.
For the past 11 months, Pakatan has been portrayed as selling out the Malay Malaysians because Perak is a Chinese Malaysian or DAP-controlled state, even though you, from PAS, are MB.
I don’t think people fall for it. You can’t change the fact that you’ll be perceived as Chinese Malaysian-dominated because DAP won 18, PAS won only six, and PKR won seven (in the 2008 general election). Obviously it’s Chinese Malaysian dominated. You can’t change perception but the point is our policies benefit people regardless of race. Now the crazy [BN] government is Malay Malaysian-dominated. Is that reflective of Perak? It’s not, but why don’t they talk about that?