Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sivakumar suspends assembly secretary, again - Star

April 18, 2009 By CHRISTINA KOH

IPOH: Perak Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar has again suspended State Assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri, this time for issuing notices to convene the sitting on May 7 without his knowledge or consent.

Last month, Sivakumar suspended Abdullah for failing to act impartially over the calling of an emergency sitting on March 3.

Sivakumar said the notices signed by Abdullah were sent to the assemblymen on Friday.

He said that despite the previous suspension, Abdullah still signed and issued the notices.

“Don’t you think its necessary to consult the Speaker first? Who is the head of the House? It is embarrassing because I was the last person to know.

“He didn’t consult me at all and as far as I know, I did not hear anything from the palace,” he told a press conference at his office in the state assembly here Saturday.

Saying he would seek an audience with the palace to clarify the matter, Sivakumar believed it was another ploy to belittle and insult the state assembly.

Asked if he would agree to the sitting if the palace had been consulted, Sivakumar said: ”Of course I have to. If everything is in order, I will act accordingly. But until then I have to clarify. I don’t see any evidence.”

To a question, Sivakumar said even if someone from the Mentri Besar’s office had obtained permission, the protocol would have been to inform the Speaker first.

Sivakumar had again named Mohd Misbahul Munir Masduki, former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin’s political secretary, as Abdullah’s replacement.

Assembly regulations require it to be convened within six months of the last session. The last day for that would have been May 13.

In a related development, state executive councillor Datuk Hamidah Osman believed that someone was pressuring” Sivakumar to sack Abdullah.

She claimed that the two men had a cordial meeting after the notices were issued and Sivakumar seemed cooperative about the May 7 sitting.

However, State Secretary Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Hashim said that Sivakumar had no authority to suspend Abdullah.

Dr Abdul Rahman said the Sivakumar’s post was only that of an “administrative and diplomatic officer” with a M52 grade.

“Under the procedure, only the present government of the day has the authority to suspend the (assembly) secretary,” he said when contacted.

Dr Abdul Rahman said this meant only certain personnel, such as the mentri besar, and himself acting on behalf of the state government, could suspend Abdullah Antong.

He stressed that because Sivakumar did not have the authority, his earlier suspension of Abdullah Antong was, therefore, illegal and could not be enforced.

He added that the decision on who would fill the post of assembly secretary required the approval of the Public Services Department.

Earlier Saturday, Sivakumar had announced the suspension of Abdullah Antong before appointing, as his replacement, former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin's political secretary Mohd Misbahul Munir Masduki.

Meanwhile, various quarters condemned Sivakumar’s action as being disrespectful to Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah.

Ipoh Barat division chief Datuk Shamsuddin Abdul Ghaffar expressed disappointment at the Speaker, adding that such a move would only confuse the people.

Perak Malay Chamber of Commerce vice-president Datuk Mohd Raduan Mohd Kasim pointed out that the Sultan of Perak clearly had the power to convene the assembly.

Mohd Raduan also lashed out at Nizar for reportedly rejecting the recent decision of the Federal Court to declare as illegal the barring of Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and six exco members from assembly sittings.

Nizar’s statement, he said, represented a contempt of court and a disrespect for the sanctity of the law.

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