PETALING JAYA, 22 April 2009: Inspired by the Federal Court’s ruling last week against a decision by the Perak speaker, Puchong Member of Parliament (MP) Gobind Singh intends to take the Dewan Rakyat speaker to court over his one-year suspension from the house.
Gobind Gobind told The Nut Graph that he would file the suit against speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia at the Kuala Lumpur High Court at 11am tomorrow.
Gobind said his suit would touch on two points: that Pandikar did not give him the chance to defend himself against his suspension, and that the House had taken away his constitutional right as an MP to remuneration.
Gobind cited Article 64 of the Federal Constitution which states that “Parliament shall by law provide for the remuneration of members of each House.”
“There is no other provision in the constitution nor in the Standing Orders that says an MP’s constitutional right to remuneration can be taken away,” Gobind said when contacted this evening.
The Puchong MP was suspended from the Dewan Rakyat for one year on 16 March, after the house debated and passed a motion to suspend him tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
The motion was moved against Gobind after he had accused then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on 12 March of being involved in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu. At the time, the house was debating the mini-budget.
Nazri’s motion had included the stripping of Gobind’s salary and allowances as an MP during his suspension period.
“After the Barisan Nasional MPs spoke on the motion and made accusations against me, I rose to defend myself but the speaker did not allow me to do so. I was punished without being given the option of defending myself,” Gobind said.
Gobind said he was “partly inspired” by the Federal Court’s decision against Perak Speaker V Sivakumar’s suspension of Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and six executive councillors on 16 April.
Pandikar Amin (Courtesy of Merdeka Review) While the Federal Court has gone against Article 72 of the Federal Constitution which protects the proceedings of any state legislative assembly from being challenged in court, Gobind said he wanted to test Article 63 of the constitution, which provided for the same in respect to parliamentary proceedings.
Perak a “bottomless pit”
Constitutional law expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, however, sees some differences between the Perak speaker’s decision to suspend the menteri besar and excos with Gobind’s suspension.
Shad Saleem notes that in Gobind’s case, a minister in the Dewan Rakyat had moved a motion on the suspension which was debated and passed, according to correct procedure.
“The speaker has the right to suspend an MP for one day as a disciplinary measure, but beyond that period, a minister in the House must table a resolution. In the Perak state assembly, it should have been an executive councillor who should have tabled a similar resolution,” said Shad Saleem.
Zambry and his six excos were suspended for between 12 and18 months by Sivakumar after a meeting of the assembly’s Rights and Privileges Committee.
“Even if the decision to suspend was taken by the committee, the committee still has to bring its resolution to the assembly to be voted on,” notes Shad Saleem.
Therefore, what is crucial to the validity of Zambry and his excos’ suspensions is the legality of the 3 March “assembly under the tree“.
Nizar This emergency sitting had passed three motions: to express support for embattled Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, to dissolve the state assembly to enable fresh elections, and to affirm Sivakumar’s decision to suspend Zambry and the six excos.
But Shad Saleem notes that the Federal Court did not make any ruling on the 3 March sitting under the tree. Zambry and the six excos had, in challenging their suspensions, also asked the court to rule on whether the emergency assembly could be called without proclamation by the Sultan.
“The Federal Court evaded this issue and gave us a hanging judgement. It refused to validate the assembly under the tree which confirmed the suspensions of Zambry and the exco.
“The legality of this emergency assembly is, for me, a major issue, as it affects the other issues. Perak has become a bottomless pit of constitutional issues all tied up with one another,” Shad Saleem said.
Shad Saleem also felt that the emergency sitting should have passed a vote of no-confidence against Zambry instead of only affirming confidence in Nizar as the menteri besar.
“They did things the other way round, what was the point of passing a vote of confidence in Nizar when he had already been dismissed by the sultan? They should have tried to vote Zambry out instead,” he said.