Statement by Bar Council

Press Release: Statement on the Perak Crisis

Image The situation in Perak today once again raises many Constitutional issues.

There are some overriding principles that operate in such situations. One is the doctrine of separation of powers, which means that the Judiciary cannot interfere in the workings (proceedings) of Parliament or the State Legislative Assemblies (Article 72 of the Federal Constitution), as they have the privilege of regulating their own internal affairs and procedure.

The doctrine of separation of powers also means that there should be no Executive influence in the workings of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies. We say this as it has been reported that there are attempts to lodge police reports against the Speaker of the Perak State Assembly, which would violate these provisions.

The other principle is that the Speaker has wide powers, which in this case will be set out in the relevant Standing Orders.

Apart from these overarching principles, one will have to study the Perak Constitution and Standing Orders to resolve if the correct procedure was followed in the recent suspension of Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and his six executive council members.

One legal view is that the Speaker and the Committee of Special Privileges have the powers that they have exercised; another is that the matter referred to the Committee of Special Privileges must be placed before the State Assembly before it can take effect.

Regardless of whether the correct procedure was followed by the Speaker and the Committee of Special Privileges, under Article 72 of the Federal Constitution their conduct and the validity of their proceedings may nevertheless be outside the jurisdiction of the courts.

While we wrestle with these constitutional and legal issues, there is a reality on the ground that we must face. The legal actions are not the first and are unlikely to be the last. This is not desirable and does not provide an effective and definitive solution. Going back to the people of Perak will. We urge the parties involved to seriously consider doing so, not only in the interest of the people of Perak but also in the interest of stability and the nation as a whole.

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan

Malaysian Bar
19 February 2009

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