By Neville Spykerman
Desperate bid: DAP Perak chief Datuk Ngeh Hoo Kam (centre) and State Speaker V. Sivakumar (right) posing with lawyer Leong Cheok Keng, assemblymen and supporters outside the High Court before Sivakumar filed a suit to uphold the resignations of Changkat Jering, Behrang and Jelapang assemblymen and declaring the seats vacant. Pix courtesy of The Star
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Perak's constitution makes no provisions for the removal of its legislative assembly speaker and Barisan Nasional is stuck with DAP's V. Sivakumar.
In a statement released in Ipoh yesterday, Sivakumar confirmed he remained the speaker of the Perak state assembly.
According to Selangor Speaker Teng Chang Khim today, the Tronoh assemblyman cannot even be removed (as Perak speaker) by a vote of no confidence.
He said that both the federal and Selangor constitution provide that the speaker shall vacate his office — if the assembly at any time so resolves.
However there is no such provision in the Perak constitution.
The Sungai Pinang assemblyman, who is a lawyer, said Sivakumar can only vacate his office when he ceases to be a member of the Perak Legislative Assembly or if he is disqualified from holding other office, or resigns on his own accord.
Effectively the constitutional deadlock griping the silver state is set to continue.
Sivakumar can, if he chooses, bar former Pakatan Rakyat defectors, who have "resigned" from the assembly, which will effectively reduce BN's majority in the House.
The Perak speaker had previously declared that assemblymen Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, Osman Jailu and Hee Yit Foong had vacated their seats after he received their resignation letters.
Teng said the trio may have to go to court to break the deadlock but even a ruling in their favour will not change the fact that Sivakumar will continue as speaker.
Excluding the trio, BN will have 28 members in the House to PR's 27, with Sivakumar as speaker.
Should Sivakumar vacate his office for any reason, the House will be considered a hung legislature because the Perak constitution provides the assembly shall transact no business while the office of speaker is vacant other than the election of a speaker.
With no clear majority, BN's Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir will have no choice but to seek the dissolution of the House and obtain consent from the Perak Ruler for fresh elections.
However the sentiment of the people is clearly against BN and it would want to avoid statewide elections at all cost.
"I believe they will opt to retain Sivakumar," said Teng.
However the Speaker has wide-ranging discretion in the assembly and Sivakumar has the potential to be a very painful thorn in the side of BN and Zambry.
"The speaker's decision on the Standing Orders cannot be challenged except by way of motion (a lengthy process which includes holding a debate in the House)."
Ironically few people know this better than Teng.
On April 25, 2005 , he was suspended from the Selangor Legislative Assembly following an argument with then Speaker Datuk Seri Onn Ismail.
In an act of defiance Teng threw a copy of the Standing Orders into a bin when Onn rejected his motion of no confidence against then Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.
Teng was suspended with no pay for 30 months.