Perak Speaker R. Ganesan stands accused of holding another job besides being the Speaker of the state assembly. — Picture by Choo Choy May
IPOH, Aug 21 — Another battle is raging over Datuk R. Ganesan’s validity as the Perak Speaker, with Pakatan Rakyat leaders here claiming he should be disqualified for holding two jobs — as Speaker and as a lawyer.
Ganesan has, however, denied this and claims he had stopped his practice since his appointment during the chaotic May 7 state assembly sitting.
Former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin revealed today that the former Sungkai assemblyman had infringed Article 36A of the Perak Constitution by failing to relinquish his job as a lawyer within three months of his appointment.
Article 36A of the Perak Constitution stipulates: A member who is elected to be the Speaker shall be disqualified from holding such office if after three months of his election to such office or at any time thereafter he is or becomes a member of any board of directors or board of management, or an officer or employee, or engages in the affairs or business, of any organisation or body, whether corporate or otherwise, or of any commercial, industrial or other undertaking, whether or not he receives any remuneration, reward, profit or benefit from it.
Nizar also showed proof to the media: a letter from the Bar Council dated August 12, confirming that Ganesan was still in possession of a valid Sijil Annual and Practising Certificate, registered with the council and sole proprietor of legal firm Messrs Ganesan & Associates.
The letter was in reply to a query by Chan Kok Keong, legal counsel for former Speaker V. Sivakumar, seeking information on Ganesan’s status.
“The council confirmed that as of August 11, more than three months past his supposed appointment, Ganesan was still an actively practising lawyer. This is not allowed under the State Constitution.
“In view of this, Ganesan should be disqualified and should stop receiving any form of remuneration from the state government,” said Nizar.
He added that when PR was in government, he, all his executive councillors and Speaker V. Sivakumar had resigned from their day jobs for holding government office was a full-time responsibility.
“I had to deregister myself as a professional engineer. All of us resigned and concentrated on administrating the government. This is common knowledge,” he said.
He reiterated however that by calling for Ganesan to be disqualified, it did not mean that that PR recognised the latter’s appointment.
“It only further affirms that Sivakumar had always been the rightful Speaker because Ganesan’s appointment was illegal,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ganesan has countered the accusation and fired another salvo of his own.
Shortly after the press conference, he showed proof to the media in the form of another letter from the Bar Council, dated August 20, which stated that he had ceased to be a solicitor as of August 6, just before the three-month deadline.
Ironically, the letter was signed by the same person as the one addressed to Chan on August 12.
“I have already resigned. And anyway, my practice stopped in May. Notifying the council is only a formality,” he said when contacted.
When informed of Ganesan’s letter, former senior executive councillor Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham was unfazed.
“I challenge Ganesan to show us the exact date that he had resigned as a lawyer. Let him answer to that,” he said.
It is learned that Ganesan had last week been served with an affidavit from Sivakumar, stating that he should be disqualified as the Speaker by virtue of him still holding office as a legal practitioner.
Certain quarters believe that Ganesan may have only applied for his resignation upon receiving the affidavit.
Earlier when he was asked for the exact date of his resignation, Ganesan said he could not remember as the matter had been handled by his lawyers.
“I am very busy right now so I hope you understand,” he said, when asked if he could clarify the matter immediately with his lawyers.