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Perak’s political drama heightens

THE political drama in Perak, which has escalated from one height to another, is set to spike tomorrow with an emergency state assembly sitting to vote on two motions related to the state’s constitutional crisis.

However, even if the emergency sitting is successful, it would not immediately solve the impasse. It would, in fact, be the latest in a series of planned steps by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to turn the matter back to Perak’s ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah, in the hopes of forcing a snap poll.

The two motions expected at the emergency sitting are to reaffirm support for the PR’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as Perak menteri besar, and to seek dissolution of the state assembly.

Speaker V Sivakumar, the DAP assemblyperson for Tronoh, invoked Standing Orders to call for the emergency sitting. As the all-powerful speaker of the state assembly, he is the PR’s trump card in the state’s political impasse despite the Barisan Nasional (BN) having taken over the state government.

Sivakumar has already flexed his muscles by suspending the BN’s Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive councillors. They will not be allowed to enter the assembly for the emergency sitting. Neither will the three independents who left the PR to support the BN be allowed into the state assembly, as Sivakumar deems their resignations from their state seats effective.

With 10 representatives on the BN’s side out, the numbers in the 59-seat state assembly would be in the PR’s favour at 27 to 21. The PR’s 28th seat is Sivakumar’s, who, as speaker, cannot vote.


Zambry with his executive councillors and special advisers

Back to the palace

Barring any attempts of forced entry by Zambry and the BN excos into the state assembly house, and any potential ruckus or situation that may thwart the emergency sitting, Nizar will quite easily be given the vote of confidence as MB.

Following that, two scenarios could take place.

One, Nizar could quickly seek an audience with Sultan Azlan to request the dissolution of the assembly.

Two, the impasse would continue because Zambry and the BN would certainly not take affirmation of Nizar as the legitimate MB sitting down.

Nizar may opt not to hurry to the palace seeking the assembly’s dissolution, but be content to let the deadlock and the uncertainty drag on until the assembly’s next sitting, which must be called by May.

The limbo could be intentional to force Sultan Azlan to call both Zambry and Nizar for an audience to decide a way out of the situation.

“Under the present circumstances, the ruler could call both parties to the dispute, he could consult both menteris besar and ask them if they feel fresh elections would be the best way out,” says Mohamed Asri Othman, the Perak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) legal adviser.

“The sultan cannot decide alone; he must take into account relevant factors through listening to both sides,” Asri adds.

Appealing to the sultan’s discretion

It appears that the latest situation is being engineered by the PR, which has the upper hand in the house through the speaker. The intention would be to appeal to the sultan’s personal discretionary powers that he has under Article 18, Clause 2 of the Perak Constitution.

Such discretion is applicable to two functions, namely, the appointment of a menteri besar, and the withholding of consent to a request for the dissolution of the state legislative assembly.

According to the clause, the sultan’s personal discretion is allowed when deciding whether to dissolve the assembly upon request by the menteri besar.

This is consistent with Article 16(6) of the state constitution, whereby the MB can request the ruler to dissolve the assembly. This is what Nizar tried to do earlier, but failed.

There is another provision that touches on dissolution as well: Article 36(2) which simply states, “His royal highness may prorogue or dissolve the legislative assembly”.

Although Article 36(2) does not specify any conditions (such as a request by the MB) for the dissolution, it is still deemed by some legal experts to be discretionary power subject to Clause 2.

“‘Dissolve’ as stated in 36(2) is discretionary according to the wording of Clause 2, where consenting to dissolution is based on request,” says Universiti Teknologi Mara’s constitutional law expert Professor Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.

“As a general rule, the sultan acts on advice except for areas where discretionary power is mentioned, such as under Clause 2, where a request for dissolution must be made,” he explains.

Says Mohamed Asri: “As a constitutional monarch, he has to act on the advice of the menteri besar. If the ruler decides unilaterally, then he would be an absolute monarch.”

Based on their explanations, this means the ruler can still only decide whether or not to dissolve the assembly, upon on the request for dissolution from the menteri besar. It does not mean he can decide on his own, independent of any request, to dissolve the assembly.


Nizar
In this context, if Nizar succeeds in being affirmed as MB in the emergency sitting tomorrow, he would have legitimate grounds to seek an audience with the sultan.

Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari of the International Islamic University says the sultan’s role is as a facilitator of democracy.

“The sultan, as protector of the constitution, [has] to facilitate democracy and not otherwise. He needs a government that has a clear mandate, so in dissolving the assembly, he would be assisting democracy to establish that clear mandate,” says the law lecturer.

Obstacle course

There are kinks in PR’s plan, though, and that is the suit Nizar has filed against Zambry to declare himself as the legitimate MB.

It’s not inconceivable to think that the sultan might prefer to wait for the court’s decision before deciding to grant either side, or both, an audience to discuss the assembly’s dissolution, or the next course of action.

The BN, too, is planning a counterstrike by seeking the opinion of a Queen’s Counsel in London on the validity of Zambry’s and the excos’ suspensions, and Nizar’s suit against Zambry.

As inevitable as snap polls look, the road to elections is still littered with many mines that the PR must dodge.

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12 Responses to “Perak’s political drama heightens”

  1. Sunny says:

    “Sivakumar has already flexed his muscles by suspending the BN’s Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive councillors. They will not be allowed to enter the assembly for the emergency sitting. Neither will the three independents who left the PR to support the BN be allowed into the state assembly, as Sivakumar deems their resignations from their state seats effective.

    With 10 representatives on the BN’s side out, the numbers in the 59-seat state assembly would be in the PR’s favour at 27 to 21. The PR’s 28th seat is Sivakumar’s, who, as speaker, cannot vote.”

    And he is from the DEMOCRATIC Action Party? What democracy? By suspending others in order to gain the majority vote is democratic? He should change his party’s name. What an abuse to the word DEMOCRATIC!

  2. Joeawk says:

    Getting deeper and that is Najib who ingat dia bijak and pandai but only managed to drag the sultan into this political quamire.

  3. Ghifarix says:

    This reminds me of Aesop’s fable of the dog with the bone.

    What is clear to me is that the House is not yet subjected to the court as the mater is yet to be heard. Also, the position and decision by the speaker is not a subject in the said matter. However truth be told there are no grounds where the court should rule in Zambry’s favour. Interesting though, is BN’s every legal attempt and procrastinations, which suggest that Zambry and his sponsors rushed into this quagmire before securing the exits, are a little too late and only serve to reiterate the power of the law and that there is little room for an injustice. Zambry/BN will have no choice but to comply with greater odds stacked against them. The end result will be that the BN made a serious blunder that has cost them the status of opposition.

    The bone fell into the river.

  4. zik says:

    No problem. Whatever the result is, BN is still the sore loser whether it has dodged the bullet or not!

  5. Kd says:

    Esok harap harap sejarah baru TERCIPTA. Siva ada kuasa ada peruntukan undang-undang, kenapa nak disalahkan?

  6. Sony says:

    This is the mess that BN has got the state into and pulled the learned sultan along. Nizar/PKR were doing a fine job for the state and Ipoh. Things were improving and people generally were happy as roads were getting cleaner, drains were cleaned and trees were being planted. Mind you it was only 10 months and they had achieved some measure of progress.

    Now we have this daylight robbery by the BN. Be honest if you want Perak to come back to us the rakyat and we will make sure this time we will wipe you off Perak. This is your fear. Why fear the rakyat if you have done no wrong.

    Let the people speak once and for all and let all this crisis end. Dissolve the assembly and let the party begin!

  7. Devan says:

    Sunny … so you think what Umno did was REAL democracy? Or what the three FROGS did was also acceptable?

    The main factor here was $$$ … millions.

    Anyway I am proud to have the first Indian MB of Malaysia! Valge Makkal Sakti.

  8. Phisher says:

    “Sivakumar has already flexed his muscles by suspending the BN’s Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive councillors. They will not be allowed to enter the assembly for the emergency sitting. Neither will the three independents who left the PR to support the BN be allowed into the state assembly, as Sivakumar deems their resignations from their state seats effective.”

    And so … Pawn checks King. You got to love the political chessboard. Can’t wait for this game to reach checkmate.

  9. Uncle Leong says:

    Would be nice if we had another PRU throughout the realm to let us kick out all those who are not working for the rakyat, those who are foul-mouthed, those who are corrupt and those who betrayed the mandate of the rakyat.

  10. puppet says:

    The economy is dire and politicians in Malaysia are still fighting over this. By-elections means money goes to waste. So does a state election. Millions down the drain.

  11. Sunny says:

    Devan … do you think when Anwar and PR welcomed the BN assemblymen crossing over with open arms, that was REAL democracy? They do it, it’s democracy? When BN did it, it’s not?

  12. salak says:

    When BN did it, it’s not?

    It would be, if the BN don’t resort to bribery, threats and kidnapping! And if the police don’t resort to harassment of the victims rather than the perpetrator.


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