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Showdown in Perak on 7 May

NOW that a sitting of the Perak legislative assembly sitting has been called for 7 May, another showdown is expected because it is being convened without speaker V Sivakumar’s consent.

In such a case, constitutional law expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi believes Perak’s constitutional crisis is far from over despite how recent court decisions have appeared to favour Barisan Nasional (BN).

The court has ruled that the three independents from Behrang, Changkat Jering and Jelapang remain as assemblypersons, while the BN’s Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and six executive councillors had their suspensions from the assembly lifted.

“There is still a deadlock because the speaker would not want this sitting to be held,” Shad Saleem tells The Nut Graph.

Notices to Perak assemblypersons that the legislative assembly would convene on 7 May were issued on 17 April by the state secretary’s office.

The sitting has to be held before 13 May, the end of the six-month deadline since the last assembly was convened in November 2008. Failure to do so would mean automatic dissolution of the assembly and fresh elections, which the BN has been trying to avoid since their takeover of the state on 5 Feb.

The likely agenda in the 7 May sitting, since it is being convened by the BN side, is to pass a motion of confidence on Zambry as menteri besar and to elect a new speaker to replace Sivakumar.

Shad Saleem says there was once a case in India where a state assembly was adjourned sine die (indefinitely) as soon as the house sat because the speaker did not want the sitting held.

“If Sivakumar does the same, then the constitutional crisis continues,” Shad Saleem explains.

Zambry (File pic)

The law professor at Universiti Teknologi Mara also adds that “it was an open question” on whether the assembly secretary could issue the notice convening the assembly on the orders of Zambry. “Usually, the assembly secretary acts on the instructions of the speaker.”

Shad Saleem says the only solutions apparent to him was to either declare emergency rule in Perak, or the sultan on the advice of the menteri besar could prorogue the assembly and then use his royal prerogative to call a new session.

Deciding course of action

Both the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and the BN are mum at the moment on what each will do when the assembly convenes.

Perak Gerakan chief Datuk Chang Ko Youn, who is also a special adviser appointed to assist Zambry in Chinese Community Affairs, says they are being advised by the BN’s lawyers on the matter.

Meanwhile, Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham states PR assemblypersons will “only act on the instruction of the speaker”, but declines to outline the exact course of action.

Meanwhile, Ngeh, a lawyer, also tells The Nut Graph that the Federal Court’s decision to lift the suspension of Zambry and six excos had no effect as “it was only an opinion expressed by the court.”

“There was no order to quash the speaker’s order [to suspend the seven], so the order is still there. The court’s declaration was also wrongly aimed at the speaker, when the decision on the suspensions was made by the Rights and Privileges Committee,” says Ngeh.

However, Sivakumar chairs the committee.

Reacting to Ngeh’s statement, Chang, also a lawyer, says any declaration by the court is enforceable. “If it is just an expression of opinion, then it’s a bloody waste of time. This is Pakatan — when the judgment is not in their favour, they say that justice is not being served.”

Shad Saleem also supports Chang’s position, saying that in any country where there is rule of law, a court declaration carries weight.

“While it may be technically true that it is a declaration, to say that it is merely that and therefore non-binding, I think that is a desperate argument,” the law professor says.

On the argument that the court decision breaks the doctrine of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judiciary, Chang explains the more correct term is “checks and balances” instead of “independence” of the legislative assembly from court action.

“There is no absolute independence, the idea of checks and balances is that whichever estate exceeds its power can be subject to court action. In this case, the speaker acted as judge, jury and executioner,” Chang said.

The Federal Court ruling against the suspensions on 16 April is a landmark decision as there are constitutional provisions preventing decisions by the speaker of a state legislative assembly or parliament from being challenged in court.

Article 72, Clause (1) of the Federal Constitution clearly states that “the validity of any proceedings in the Legislative Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any court.”

But with the ruling, the court has set a precedent as now the speaker’s decisions and actions can be subject to judicial review.

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6 Responses to “Showdown in Perak on 7 May”

  1. zuan says:

    Then who checks the court when they exceed their powers?

  2. Ghifari X says:

    Go ahead – we the people will never accept this illegal move by the courts let alone Zambry and the spongers forcing themselves on the people. We will not be raped. There is no justice and you BN/UMNO politicians are the nasty criminals. Your aim and ambitions are to seek immunity to rob, rape and pilfer. The people hate you – don’t you get it?

  3. george says:

    The federal court has no power to enforce their decision, it goes back to the house, i.e. the speaker to call a sitting and in the house decides who has the majority, then the rest can follow, such as appointment of new speaker, MB. I agree the federal court can only express its opinion to break the deadlock, if all parties agree, the court cannot question the house, if it can than every dog can take them to court on every decision that is made, and therefore cannot function lah.

  4. ceong2000 says:

    This is what BN is trying to do to stop the PR to have it resolved but they make a mistake again and again. How can the Fed Court dismiss the Speaker when it was the committee decision. I think the Speaker is not as stupid as the BN who know how to corrupt and do not care about the Perakians. So how to let them be the government? This issue is also the Perakian doing the wrong thing first who make it like history. If they will be like the Penangites then there will be no problem as the PR controls more than the 2/3 majority. I do hope the Perakians will learn the mistake here and make sure it is not repeated in the 13th GE. Hope the Speaker will know what to do next. Let the show begin.

  5. Eric says:

    This Barisan:

    A Gerakan guy, who was shown the door by his own electors is appointed in the State Exco through the backdoor. Besides, he has no qualm doing “Chinese affairs” when I supposed Gerakan was multi-racial and not a race-based party.

    After the Perak civil service and the federal police (without any legal mandate); no less than the federal court, of course featuring star BN judge Augustine Paul, is now meddling in the Perak legislative power. Only Zambry and Chang see no constitutional issue here.

    I do not know about you, but I am praying the meeting cannot be held, since only the Speaker can convene it. Unless of course BN decides otherwise as they appear to be above the law, the constitution and the Rakyat. Dissolution is the only way to solve this.

  6. fylin says:


    Can you ask Shad Saleem to comment on the validity of Article 72 Clause (1) of the Federal Constitution in relation the Federal Court ruling on the Perak constitutional crisis?

    Your article needs to address the issue in totality and not a section of it in which case it will be distorted.

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