IPOH: April 26, 2008 By P. Chandra Sagaran
It was a historic moment at the Perak assembly yesterday when an Indian state assemblyman was elected as the speaker for the first time, while a woman was chosen as deputy speaker.
DAP assemblyman for Tronoh V. Sivakumar, 37, was elected as the 12th speaker, while Hee Yit Foong, the DAP assemblywoman for Jelapang and a polio victim, was picked for the deputy speaker's post at the first sitting of the assembly.
The Pakatan Rakyat grouping of DAP, PKR and Pas won 31 seats against Barisan Nasional's 28 in the March 8 general election.
BN nominated former speaker Datuk Seri Junus Wahid to retain the position and nominated Chenderiang state assemblyman Mah Hang Soon for the deputy speaker's post.
Even before voting could take place, there were plenty of fireworks from both sides.
When Slim assemblyman Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib proposed Junus's name, senior executive council member and Sitiawan assemblyman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham objected as the candidate was not even present in the assembly.
"The proposed candidate must be physically present," he said.
To this, Pengkalan Hulu assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali stood up and said: "If his presence is needed urgently, he can be called as Junus is just around the corner. Notice should have been given for him to be present."
After assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri announced that he had contacted Junus, Pantai Remis assemblyman Nga Kor Ming retorted saying the former should not have done so.
A few minutes later, a calm Junus walked into the assembly and witnessed the voting.
Although the standing orders stated the ballot papers would be marked and signed while the assembly secretary or his agent should collect the papers from the desk of the wakil rakyat, BN assemblymen had other plans in mind and asked for a secret ballot.
Pasir Pinji DAP assemblyman Thomas Su Keong Siong said the standing orders did not say anything about a secret ballot.
Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin defused the situation by saying the government agreed to a secret vote.
All assemblymen walked to the two booths to sign and mark their ballot papers before putting them in boxes.
When the results were announced, Sivakumar received 31 votes against his opponent's 28, while Hee received 30 votes against the 28 obtained by her opponent.