Perak oh Perak!

Wednesday May 6, 2009

Go back to

the people,

says senate head

PETALING JAYA: The political situation in Perak has reached a stage where it may be time to go back to the people, said Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh.

Dr Abdul Hamid, who has been observing the development in Perak with concern, said ad hoc actions on the part of individuals and political parties in Perak had not solved the impasse.

“Rightly or wrongly, the series of ad hoc actions have only made things more complex and convoluted. The best thing is for the powers-that-be to decide on the best course of action under the circumstances,” he said.

He said that in a democracy, when the arithmetic shows that one has the majority, then the problem is solved.

“In this case, the arithmetic is right but the problem is still there. Either you go on like this till the next general election or you go back to the people,” he added.

“The application of individual and specific provisions, be it under the Perak Constitution, the Standing Orders or the Federal laws, have not brought about a solution.

“That is why I think it is time to address the fundamental issue. Maybe it is time to go back to the people.”

The Senate president pointed out that all kinds of options had been exercised but had not worked. He said these included Legislative Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar applying his powers, the Sultan exercising his prerogative and the three independent assemblymen aligning themselves to the Barisan.

He said the Senate would swear in six new Senators today but Perak to date had not been able to nominate anyone for the Senate because of the political impasse.

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Dr M: Sultan has no power to remove MB
Rahmah Ghazali | May 6, 09 12:28pm
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Dr Mahathir Mohamad today delivered a potential hammer blow to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak by stating that an elected head of a state government cannot be removed by a sultan.

Instead, the former prime minister said that the elected head of a state government can only be removed by a vote of no-confidence in the legislative assembly.

mahathir talks on constitution 060509 01However, Mahathir was quick to add that the situation in Perak was different.

While he did not explain how it was different, the former premier could have been alluding to the ongoing court case to determine the legitimate menteri besar in Perak.

The state has been undergoing political turmoil ever since the Perak sultan ordered the Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin to resign in February, following the coalition’s drop in numbers in the assembly as a result of three defections.

The sultan had then agreed to the appointment of Barisan Nasional’s Zambry Abd Kadir as menteri besar – a move which resulted in political and administrative chaos in the state.

A state assembly sitting is to take place tomorrow during which Zambry is expected to consolidate his position as the menteri besar.

However Pakatan representatives are equally adamant in that they will not give up power.

Constitution is ‘clear’ on the matter

Mahathir refused to comment when asked if he thought that Zambry’s appointment was legitimate.

mahathir talks on constitution 060509 02“I said the case of the Perak crisis is something else, something that is being decided by the court… [but] under the constitution and as far as I know, the federal constitution states very clearly that a monarch cannot remove a prime minister.

“He can refuse to appoint a prime minister, but once appointed you cannot remove him until there’s a vote of no-confidence made against him,” he said after delivering a keynote address on the separation of powers in Putrajaya today.

When asked again if this principle applied in the case of Perak, he said: “I should think that it applies to the state but if Perak is different, then I stand corrected.”

Nizar has filed a suit against Zambry on the question of the latter’s legitimacy as menteri besar and the matter is being heard at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

BN made ‘hasty’ decision

The former premier further revealed that BN may have been “a little bit hasty” when it decided to form the new government in Perak.

“It looks a bit like that, it was a little bit hasty. Maybe they are doing the right thing, but still, it was hasty,” he said.

Elaborating on remarks in his keynote address, Mahathir stressed that the people should learn lessons from the ongoing political turmoil in Perak.

The people should not rush into making decisions, he said, or mistakes will be made.

“In any situation, just give yourself time to think (before making a decision),” he said.

Mahathir had also said in his speech that a speaker can be sued if there are complaints against him or if laws are broken – but that the judiciary cannot unilaterally interfere with the speaker’s decisions.

perak speaker sivakumar 180409“If someone makes a complaint or if there is evidence of breach of law the judiciary can pass judgement. If he (the speaker) is (performing duties in) accordance to the law, that is quite different.

“The rules of legislature have certain privileges. If these privileges are abused and people complain, then the judiciary has the right to judge the case if it is brought before them.”

Mahathir refused to comment when asked if Perak speaker V Sivakumar (left) had abused his privileges in suspending Zambry and six state executive councillors.

“That is for the courts to decide. When the (matter is referred to the courts), we need to keep our mouth shut,” he said.

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