Andrew Ong & Rahmah Ghazali | Feb 4, 09 11:29pm
Perak Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin today said there was no reason for him to step down from his post as requested by the state's Barisan Nasional chief Najib Abdul Razak.
He said that he was still the head of the state government until the state assembly was dissolved by the sultan.
Alternatively, he argued, the BN should try to call for a vote of no confidence against him to force him to step down.
Speaking at a press conference at his official residence at 10pm tonight, Mohd Nizar said the suggestion by Deputy Prime Minister Najib did not reflect what was stipulated in the Perak constitution.
"Under what condition and under what law is the Barisan Nasional deputy chief referring to? Whatever that you want to do, (it) has to be based on the Perak constitution.
"Let's be professional about it. We Perakians are professional people. We would like the would-be prime minister to observe all those conditions as well," he said.
Based on the Perak constitution, Mohd Nizar said Pakatan was still the legitimate government unless the state assembly sits to pass a motion of no-confidence or if the coalition government resigns.
"Changing governments is not like changing your favourite coffee stall. You have to follow the procedures," he added.
Mohd Nizar also chided Najib for trying to take over the Perak government through unconstitutional means.
"He is just trying to scare people... he wants to do things that is not respecting the Perak constitution.
"I humbly request Najib - who will soon be prime minister - to exercise his fairness and justice to the people of Perak," he said.
To a question, Mohd Nizar said that the Pakatan government would continue to function normally until the sultan decides on a request to dissolve the state assembly.
A dramatic day in Perak
The menteri besar's press conference came at the end of what had been a dramatic day for him and his Pakatan Rakyat government.
The day started with talks of an impending defection by at least three Pakatan state assemblypersons to BN.
And as feared by Pakatan, Najib announced in Putrajaya at about 5pm that BN has secured the support of the four former Perak Pakatan assemblypersons.
Najib also said that BN now enjoyed the majority support in the state assembly - BN's 31 against Pakatan's 28. He then called for Mohd Nizar to step down along with his state cabinet so that BN can form the government.
Najib also said that he would be meeting the sultan soon to explain the shift in the balance of power in the state assembly.
While a beaming Najib was unveiling the four to the media, Mohd Nizar was having an audience with the sultan in Ipoh, making a request for dissolution so that a snap state poll can be called.
He left the palace about two hours later, telling reporters that the sultan was still contemplating his request.
Najib is expected to meet the sultan tomorrow.
Speaker declares Jelapang seat vacant
The four defectors were Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (PKR-Behrang), Osman Jailu (PKR-Changkat Jering) and deputy assembly speaker Hee Yit Foong (DAP-Jelapang). The surprise defector was Bota representative Nasarudin Hashim who crossed over to PKR only 10 days ago.
At the same press conference, state assembly speaker V Sivakumar said that he had received Hee's resignation letter this morning.
He said that he had informed the state Election Commission about the vacancy for the Jelapang seat so that a by-election can be held within 60 days.
Also present at the press conference was state DAP chief and senior exco member Ngeh Koo Ham who criticised the media for claiming that the Pakatan government had collapsed.
"The government stays. We will wait for (the sultan to decide on) dissolution (of the state assembly)," he said.
Should the sultan withhold consent, a special sitting in the state assembly must be convened in order to pass a motion of no-confidence, said Ngeh.
He said that the state assembly was the most neutral place to evaluate the allegiance of the four former Pakatan state representatives which Najib claimed had left Pakatan.
Anwar: Give mandate back to the people
Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim said that a snap poll was vital in Perak as a result of the latest development.
He said that the mandate to choose the government must be given back to the people in Perak.
To a question by reporters, Anwar also said that it was not a mistake to bring in Nasarudin into PKR in the first place.
"He wanted to join us. He visited me at my house with his wife. He then came to see me at Permatang Pauh.
"He said that he was disillusioned with Umno and he was unhappy with Najib. That's why he joined us," said Anwar, the de facto PKR leader.
He also said that he was told that Nasarudin was ‘abducted' this morning on the way to Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur. (Nasarudin denied this at the press conference in Putrajaya).
Anwar spoke to reporters after chairing a meeting at the party headquarters tonight. The meeting started at 8.30pm and went on for about three hours.
Anwar also said that Pakatan will be holding its council meeting in Ipoh tomorrow.
"We will be there to show our support for Nizar and the state government," he said.