Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crisis looms: Perak MB, 6 excos suspended - Malaysiakini

Feb 18, 09 6:57pm

The Perak state assembly's special privileges committee today suspended the state's newly-minted menteri besar Zambry Abdul Kadir and all his six executive councillors.

The decision was announced by Perak state assembly speaker V Sivakumar after the committee's inquiry proceeding in Ipoh this afternoon.

Zambry was slapped with an 18-month suspension while the excos have been suspended for 12 months.

The latest development plunges Perak into another crisis following BN's seizure of the state government two weeks ago.

Sivakumar, a DAP state assemblyperson, is still the Perak speaker as the BN government has yet to convene the state assembly to replace him with one of their own.

In a statement to the media, Sivakumar said the decision was reached because the seven had failed to provide an explanation for their contempt of the state assembly by declaring themselves menteri besar and excos.

"I have decided to bar Datuk Zambry with immediate effect from attending any assembly session for the next 18 months and the six exco members have also been barred for 12 months," read the four-paragraph statement.

The inquiry was convened after Wong Kah Woh (DAP-Canning) had last Thursday made an official complaint.

The numbers tilt again

By suspending seven of the BN's 28 state assemblypersons, the numbers have again tilted back to the former Pakatan Rakyat government.

Should the state assembly be reconvened now, it is almost certain that the seven suspended representatives would not be allowed into the assembly, allowing Pakatan to have an edge of 28 seats against BN's 24.

The suspension means that while BN can technically continue to rule, it cannot convene a meeting of a state assembly for fear that Pakatan would move a vote of no confidence against the government.

Should that be passed, then the assembly could be dissolved paving the way for a state-wide snap elections.

Contacted later, prominent lawyer Benjamin Dawson said the current situation is a result of the unresolved political turmoil in the state.

By convention, he said Malaysians will have to wait for the court decision on the suit filed by Pakatan Rakyat's ousted menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin challenging Zambry's appointment.

He said unless the court rules in Nizar's favour, Zambry is presumed to be menteri besar.

"There is no question of him (Zambry) not being given access to the legislature (state legislative assembly). It is a matter of debate," he said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

"This is not a constitutional crisis but it involves the tactical aspect in politics. Nizar has sought to declare Zambry's appointment unlawful under Article 16 of the Perak constitution and there is basis."

According to Dawson, the best option to unlock the current stalemate would be to dissolve the state assembly and hold a fresh state election.

But this, he added, must have the sultan's consent.

Respect people's will and power
However, Transparency International Malaysia chairperson Ramon Navaratnam said this is "certainly a constitutional crisis" and seemed to be a plan to bring back the opposition to power.

"This is why all these irregularities and contradictory decisions underscore the importance of a democracy which is to respect the will and power of the people.

"Power comes from the people and leaders should be elected and dismissed by the people. All decisions on the constitutionality of any government should rely on the people," he told Malaysiakini.

Ramon said when the crisis started early this month, the right and proper way was to call for fresh elections.

"A full scale election should be held to show that democracy is at work. Government and legislature must be held accountable for its action. People have the sovereign right to exercise their democratic right in this scenario," he added.

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