By Shannon Teoh
IPOH, March 4 – As far as Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin is concerned, he has been reaffirmed as the legitimate mentri besar of Perak, and he will go ahead with his plan to seek an audience with Sultan Azlan to seek a dissolution of the state assembly.
Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini
He told The Malaysian Insider late last night that the vote of confidence in his administration given by an emergency sitting of the state legislature was valid, despite Umno legal advisor Datuk Hafarizam Hassan’s insistence earlier in the day that the meeting under a tree was illegal.
The order obtained by Umno lawyers from the Ipoh High Court yesterday restraining Perak Speaker V Sivakumar from holding assemblies without the Sultan’s consent will be served on him today, and it will then become clearer what transpired in court yesterday.
Yesterday, Umno’s lawyers obtained the order in chambers, without the presence of Sivakumar’s lawyers who were removed earlier by the judge who ruled that only the state legal advisor could represent the Speaker, even though legal experts contend that the Speaker is not constitutionally a public official.
For now, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders are defiant and appear unwilling to accept yesterday’s court ruling.
“Yes, it is still valid,” Nizar told The Malaysian Insider when asked about the morning’s sitting.
“No court in the land can challenge the Speaker,” he declared defiantly.
Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini
After being refused entry into the state assembly building by police acting on the instructions of the state secretary, Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers proceeded to gather under a shade of a nearby tree where Sivakumar convened what he contends was a legitimate sitting of the state assembly.
The 20 minute sitting saw three votes passed – to reaffirmed that Nizar remained MB; to ask Nizar to seek a dissolution of the assembly; and to endorse the suspension of de facto mentri besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his executive council from the assembly.
Nizar said last night he would still request an audience with Sultan Azlan Shah to ask his consent to dissolve the assembly and that the police reports by PR representatives against the Ipoh OCPD and the state secretary for obstructing the electoral process would be pursued.
DAP leaders also echoed his sentiment, and claimed they would continue to pursue “the rule of law” despite the “repugnant” events of the day.
Its Perak chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham listed a seemingly unending list of violations when speaking to The Malaysian Insider.
The laundry list included the police taking instructions from the state secretary instead of the speaker regarding matters of the assembly, but Ngeh reserved the main focus of his contempt for Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim’s rulings yesterday.
He said that a court could only grant an interim relief pending the outcome of a case, and not an indefinite order.
Furthermore, natural justice was not being observed by allowing the state legal advisor, who insists he is Zambry’s lawyer in a separate case, to also represent Sivakumar who is a respondent to Zambry’s suit.
“The legal advisor should himself not accept (the situation),” Ngeh said, adding that the ruling denied Sivakumar the proper access to the right of representation in court.
“He can cite the judge for contempt of the assembly,” said Ngeh, who was senior state executive councillor in Nizar’s government.
Both Ngeh and Nizar hold that the court’s ruling can be quashed in an ex-parte injunction.
Thomas Su, another of Nizar’s executive council members, also feels the ruling must be challenged or PR will be seen to be tacitly accepting the “repugnant ruling against the doctrine of separation of powers.”
“The court has made a repugnant ruling,” the lawyer said, adding that a more drastic option would be to go to the Court of Appeals.
Clearly, PR is in no doubt that BN has strong-armed the institutions onto its side and has set a dangerous precedent.
“BN has shown it has no regard for the rule of law,” said Ngeh.
“Now no legislative assembly is safe,” Su summed up.
Certainly, yesterday’s outdoors assembly was safe neither from the elements nor legal dispute.
But as evidenced by members of the public posing to take pictures with the tree after witnessing the unusual assembly, the tree may very well become a symbol of democracy for PR supporters.