IPOH, 3 March 2009: This morning, the Ipoh High Court ruled that the lawyers engaged by Perak Speaker V Sivakumar had no locus standi to represent him.
Tommy Thomas and several other lawyers were engaged by Sivakumar to represent him in a case filed by newly-appointed Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and six executive councillors to declare Sivakumar’s actions null and void.
Below is the full press statement by senior constitutional lawyer Thomas, who was leading Sivakumar’s legal team. The statement was released today at 12.30pm.
“Because much public interest has been generated in this matter, it is important that I briefly state for the record what transpired in chambers before Ridwan Ibrahim, JC (Judicial Commissioner) this morning.
“I was told by the court interpreter that the judge wanted only one counsel from each party to attend before him in chambers. Counsel entered his chambers at about 9.45am.
“The plaintiffs (Zambry and six others) were represented by Mohd Hafarizam Harun. The deputy state legal adviser Zulkifli also appeared in chambers. I represented the defendants. Once in chambers, I requested that the proceedings be held in open court because of the public interest in the matter.
“The plaintiffs objected, and the judge ruled that it should be heard in chambers.
“At the outset, counsel for the plaintiffs stated that my team, Mr Chan Kok Keong, Mr Philip Koh, Mr Augustine Anthony and Mr Leong Cheok Keng and I had no locus standi to represent the defendants, namely the Speaker and the Perak state legislative assembly.
“According to him, only the state legal adviser can act for these two defendants. The one exception is a fiat granted by the Attorney General and/or the legal adviser under Section 24(3) of the Government Proceedings Act 1956. The state legal adviser supported this submission.
“I submitted that the Government Proceedings Act is not applicable on the facts of this case and these proceedings because the defendants do not come within the Government Proceedings Act as the Speaker is not a ‘public officer’ and the assembly is not ‘government’ within the meaning of that Act.
“I also produced a letter by the Speaker appointing our team as the lawyers for the defendants.
“At the end of submissions which lasted about half an hour, the judge ruled that we have no locus standi to represent the defendants. I then applied to hold a watching brief, but with speaking rights. The plaintiffs again objected. The court ruled that I could hold the watching brief but could not submit or participate in its proceedings.
“In consequence of the two rulings, I informed the judge I did not wish to remain in chambers, and sought his permission to leave.
“The court recorded that I could withdraw from chambers, which I did at about 10.20am.”
Perak crisis deepens