Monday, March 2, 2009

Perak drama: Two suits filed - Star

March 2, 2009 By CHRISTINA KOH

IPOH: Two lawsuits have been filed against State Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar, who earlier Monday was also served with a notice of misconduct.

In the first suit, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir is seeking a court declaration that Sivakumar’s suspension of Dr Zambry and his six state executive council (exco) members was unconstitutional and ultra vires against the state Constitution.

Dr Zambry said they had the right to attend Assembly sittings. Sivakumar had called for an emergency sitting of the State Assembly on Tuesday, invoking Standing Orders 8 and 11 to vote on two motions.

The case will be heard Tuesday at the Ipoh High Court at 9am. The originating summons was filed at the High Court at 3:55pm Monday and served through Sivakumar’s staff at 5pm.

The other suit was filed by the three independents who had resigned from their parties -- two from PKR and one from DAP -- which saw the Pakatan Rakyat state government falling and Barisan Nasional taking over Perak.

The suit involved the status of their unsigned resignation letters which Sivakumar had used to declare their seats vacant. The Election Commission ruled that the letters were not valid and refused to call for by-elections in the three constituencies.

There were reports that supporters of both parties would convene Tuesday -- Barisan supporters to prevent the previous Pakatan Rakyat state government from convening the state assembly sitting, Pakatan supporters to stop them from doing so.

As of Monday, there was no sign there would be a mass gathering being planned for Tuesday. PAS Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub said supporters might turn up if there are police roadblocks.

Later Monday, police began setting up roadblocks along the main road leading to the state secretariat building, while Federal Reserve Unit personnel have been put on standby.

Former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, who still maintains he is the legitimate mentri besar, said they would have the emergency sitting at a coffeeshop or the canteen at the state secretariat building if the doors to the Dewan were barred.

The State Secretary’s office issued a circular informing all staff to cancel all appointments scheduled at the premises Tuesday as the main entrance into the building would be closed.

The circular did not say why the doors would be barred. The State Assembly Hall is located within the State Secretariat building.

Perak CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah also warned members of the public not to gather outside the State Secretariat building on Tuesday.

“Those who do not heed our advice will be considered as taking part in an illegal gathering,” he said in a statement.

“We will take the necessary action against them,” he said, adding that only officials, employees and those with permits would be allowed into the building.

He said that according to the State Assembly Secretary, the emergency meeting of the Assembly called by Sivakumar is invalid because it had not received the consent of the Perak Ruler.

State secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri had earlier released a statement to say notices sent to state assemblymen of the sitting must be accompanied with the Sultan’s proclamation summoning the assembly.

On Monday morning, Perak executive councillor Mohd Zahir Abdul Khalid and two lawyers served a notice of misconduct to Sivakumar, referring him to the Rights and Privileges Committee.

The notice, handed to Sivakumar’s political secretary A. Wasu at the Speaker’s office at 11am, came with a report accusing him of abusing his power to commit contempt of the House by disloyalty to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah.

Mohd Zahir told a press conference that the Speaker was referred to the committee for violating Article 47 of the state constitution following his suspension of Dr Zambry and his six exco members.

“The Article reads that an assemblyman taking oath must swear to preserve and defend the State Constitution and bear true allegiance to the Sultan of Perak.

“We feel that the Speaker is not following the constitution and has disobeyed the Sultan’s orders (titah).

“We have already informed all assemblymen, including the Speaker, that they must remain loyal to the Ruler. This is blatant disresgard of His Royal Highness,” Mohd Zahir said outside the Speaker’s office at the state secretariat.

Interestingly, Sivakumar heads the same Rights and Privileges Committee.

In KUALA LUMPUR, Bernama reported that Nizar’s judicial review application to challenge the legitimacy of Dr Zambry as Perak mentri besar will be heard before another High Court judge on Tuesday.

The case is fixed before High Court (Special Powers and Appellate) Court judge Lau Bee Lan, six days after Judicial Commissioner Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof recused himself from hearing the suit.

One of Nizar’s lawyers, Leong Cheok Keng, when contacted, confirmed the matter.

On Feb 25, Mohamad Ariff recused himself, in the interest of justice because prior to his appointment as judicial commissioner, he had represented PAS, PKR and even Barisan in several court cases, including election petitions.

In his application for a judicial review, Nizar is seeking an interpretation of the Perak state constitution on whether the mentri besar’s post can be vacated in a situation whereby:

* THE mentri besar had advised the ruler on the dissolution of the state legislative assembly; * THERE is no dissolution of the assembly; * THERE was no motion of confidence performed against him at the state legislative assembly; * THERE was no resignation made by him.

He said the writ is of quo warranto (by what warrant) on Zambry to show cause under which authority the Barisan-designated mentri besar can be the legitimate mentri besar.

He is also seeking a declaration that he is the legal mentri besar of Perak and an injunction to stop Zambry from carrying out the duties and functions of the mentri besar.

Nizar is also seeking punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages and costs.

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