By Debra Chong
PUTRAJAYA, March 13 — The Court of Appeal today set aside the Ipoh High Court order compelling Perak Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar to use the state legal adviser in court proceedings.
The three-member panel of judges consisting of Datuk Md Raus Sharif, Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong and Datuk Ahmad Ma’arop made their decision after a 30-minute break. It was unanimous.
“We find no provision in any law that states the speaker must be represented by the state legal adviser. Under the Government Proceedings Act, the speaker is not a state officer or the government of the state.
“The appellant is at liberty to engage his own private advocates and solicitors,” Raus read aloud in open court.
Sivakumar, who is embroiled in numerous lawsuits both in the Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur high courts, was represented by an eight-member team of lawyers led by constitutional expert Tommy Thomas.
Thomas also asked the Court of Appeal to order the Ipoh High Court to fix a new judge to replace judicial commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim to hear two suits against Sivakumar.
Ridwan, who made the controversial decision in chambers barring Sivakumar from using any lawyers other than the state legal adviser Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid, has become a figure of public scrutiny.
Raus, who headed the panel of judges, refused the request, but said Sivakumar could apply for one at the Ipoh court.
The Ipoh High Court is set to hear the suit, filed by the three elected representatives from Behrang, Changkat Jering and Jelapang against the speaker for falsely declaring their state seats vacant, on Monday.
A second suit, filed by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six Barisan Nasional executive council members against Sivakumar has been fixed for March 23.
Lawyers for Sivakumar declined to comment if they will apply to remove Ridwan from hearing either suits.
“We’ll see what happens on Monday,” was all Chan Kok Keong, who heads Sivakumar’s team in Ipoh, offered.